ATLANTA — Saturday morning, two people perished in a fiery wreck on Interstate 85 near the Gwinnett-DeKalb county border that involved a tanker truck and two other cars.
In the wake of the crash and the massive back-up that followed, there have been renewed calls for separating truck traffic from vehicular traffic in and around metro Atlanta.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has plans to develop unique new truck-only lanes between McDonough and Macon along Interstate 75 that will be the first of its kind in the nation.
The 40-mile-long-barrier-separated lanes are estimated to cost about $1.8 billion to construct by the time they are estimated to open in 2028. Funding for the truck-only lanes was approved by the Georgia General Assembly’s $11 billion Major Mobility Investment Program in 2015.
According to an estimated published in 2018 by construction trade journal Roads & Bridges, the lanes would reduce delays for truck traffic by about 40 percent on I-75 north in 2030.
The non-tolled truck-only lanes would extend from the Interstate 475-75 split just north of Macon to the McDonough Road exit (Georgia 155) in McDonough. This is about five miles south of the end of the I-75 South Metro Express Lanes in Henry County.
GDOT says they chose this particular stretch of interstate because of heavy truck traffic coming from the Port of Savannah, as well as trucks entering Georgia delivering products. Truck traffic is expected to double by 2040 on the I-75 corridor, especially with the expansion of the Port of Savannah.
According to GDOT, there are no tolls planned for the truck-only lanes.
However, plans for the truck-only lanes call for fewer entrance and exit points than the regular lanes and will not affect exits and entrances for non-commercial traffic.
Exact access points for the truck lanes beyond the endpoints have yet to be determined.
GDOT says construction is expected to begin on the truck-only lanes in 2024.