Have your say Tuesday on I-85/Hwy. 74 interchange fix

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Proposed upgrades for the interchange of Ga. Highway 74 and Interstate 85 will be on display at a “drop-in” open house Tuesday at The Bedford School gymnasium at 5665 Milam Road, Fairburn.

The event will run from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will provide motorists with a chance to review project maps and displays, provide comments and discuss the project with staff from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The DOT has two different plans for the interchange, and the selection will depend on whether or not a regional transportation sales tax is approved for metro Atlanta this summer. Both plans will significantly improve existing congestion at the intersection, but the more ambitious and costly plan will have a more lasting effect because it adds more capacity to the intersection, DOT officials and consultants have said.

If the sales tax referendum fails, the DOT will pursue the cheaper, and quicker, option to install a new concept called a “diverging diamond” interchange. The design would eliminate several left turn movements to help traffic flow smoother. It also would allow three lanes of traffic to exit the interstate and go southbound on Hwy. 74 at the same time, officials said.

The DOT has the diverging diamond interchange tentatively scheduled for construction in 2018, but it’s possible that schedule could be accelerated, officials said.

If the sales tax is approved, DOT will go after a more ambitious project that would add two cloverleaf approach paths south of the bridges. One of those cloverleafs would host two lanes of traffic coming off the interstate, allowing them to have “free flow” on Ga. Highway 74 until they reach the traffic light at Oakley Industrial Boulevard. The other cloverleaf is for traffic exiting I-85 northbound also going south on Hwy. 74.

The cloverleaf design improvements would provide additional room to stack traffic and thus have a much longer-lasting impact, officials said.

The main drawback to the cloverleaf alternative is that new bridges will have to be built across the interstate, which will extend the length of time necessary to complete the project, DOT officials have said.

Tuesday’s open house will be accessible to persons with disabilities and those needing special accommodations may call in advance to make arrangements at 404-377-9147.
A court reporter will be at the open house to record verbal comments about the project.

Persons who can’t attend the open house will have an additional 10 days following the event to review the displays at the DOT District 7 area office located at 4125 Roosevelt Highway in College Park. The displays will also be available online at www.dot.state.ga.us and following the “public outreach” link from the information center tab.

Written statements about the project will be accepted until March and may be submitted to Mr. Glenn Bowman, P.E., Georgia Department of Transportation Office of Environmental Sciences, 16th Floor, One Georgia Center, 600 West Peachtree Street, N.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30308.