Fayette to Ga. DOT: Here’s money for I-85/Hwy. 74 interchange

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The Fayette County Commission is putting its money where its mouth is in terms of prioritizing state-level transportation projects.

The commission has notified the Georgia Department of Transportation that it wants to shift funds away from both bypasses around Fayetteville in order to accelerate the interchange improvement at Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 74 in Fairburn.

County officials contend the right-of-way acquisition has been moved up with funds available in July 2015, and once the right-of-way is purchased, the county would pull funding from GDOT resources “including unused contingency funds and cancelled projects” to begin construction of the partial cloverleaf design.

Construction of the interchange project still remains on the “long range” schedule of the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) approved by the Atlanta Regional Commission, but it is possible to accelerate projects to varying degrees, ARC officials have said previously.

The shift would divert some $24.4 million in federal funds slated for the East Fayetteville Bypass and the third phase of the West Fayetteville Bypass. Two-thirds of that figure was also slated for long-range spending in the 2020-2030 time frame, so its not immediately clear how they will be shifted to a much quicker construction time frame for the I-85 interchange.

In a press release from county officials, it was noted that the interchange “has been deemed one of the transportation projects most vital to protecting Fayette County’s continued economic development and the quality of life.”

The route is a significant logjam for commuters not just from west Fayette but also eastern Coweta County.

In a letter to GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden, Brown said the county was OK with using federal funding from the widening of McDonough Road and also the widening of Ga. Highway 54 East if needed.