Nearly two months after Atlanta voters rejected a 1-percent sales tax that would have raised $8.5 billion for regional transportation improvements, a perimeter group has a Plan B for a major interchange.
The boards of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCIDs) unanimously approved a resolution supporting reconstruction of the I-285 and Georgia 400 interchange, which is located within their boundaries.
“This interchange is ranked nationally as one with major congestion,” said Yvonne Williams, president and CEO of the PCIDs.
Williams said the vote by the PCIDs makes the interchange the PCIDs’ top priority project. The PCIDs will form a cross-jurisdictional public/private “Top End Perimeter Collaborative” to support interchange improvements and strategies to move the project forward.
“The passage of the I-285 and Georgia 400 resolution represents substantial business support from the Central Perimeter business community,” Williams said. “Our boards include the owners of the highest valued commercial property in the PCIDs, which form the heart of the Central Perimeter Market, and appointments by local governments, which include each of our multi-jurisdictional partners.”
“The PCIDs have a unique opportunity to mobilize to take advantage of an important project of regional significance that may not come our way again for many years,” Williams said. “We are now meeting with our regional partners to secure formal support for the I-285 and Georgia 400 Interchange and to create innovative financial involvement to move this estimated $450 million project forward.”
Approximately 123,000 people commute into the Perimeter CIDs area daily, Williams said, and many of them are in the more than 200,000 vehicles that pass through the I-285 and Georgia 400 Interchange daily.
“The Texas Transportation Institute, the largest transportation research agency in the United States, has cited the top end of I-285 as having some of the worst congestion problems in the nation and named an adjacent portion of Georgia 400 the most unreliable commute in the nation,” Williams said.
Traffic congestion at this interchange affects the ability of the northern region to continue to attract and retain jobs, Williams said. With 29 million square feet of office space, Central Perimeter is the dominant office market in metro Atlanta and one of the region’s largest employment centers.
“Interchange capacity improvements are important not only for [the Perimeter CIDs], but also for the major Cumberland Market in Cobb County and a third jobs market in Doraville with the potential development of the former General Motors site,” Williams added. “In addition, an expansion of the Port of Savannah will require movement of more freight through the major I-285 and Georgia 400 Interchange and at a faster pace.”
The I-285/Georgia 400 interchange is a gateway for logistics and commuter traffic,” Williams said.
Williams said the Perimeter CIDs has “strategically been innovative,” citing the nearly complete Hammond Half-Diamond Interchange, Georgia’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), which was initiated in concept two years.
With an estimated $450 million price tag, the I-285/Georgia 400 interchange is “a much bigger project,” Williams said.
Williams said Perimeter CIDs would like to have some initial planning improvements at the interchange completed next year.