Truck-only lanes planned for I-75 south of Atlanta

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, April 28, 2016

Truckers driving through the Atlanta area may get their own lanes. In an effort to alleviate much of the heavy congestion plaguing the area, truck-only lanes on a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 75 have been proposed.

Two northbound lanes will be created on I-75 from McDonough to I-475 in Macon. Truck lanes will be barrier-separated from general purpose lanes. According to Georgia Department of Transportation spokesperson Natalie Dale, a 40 percent reduction in delay is expected.

Estimated costs of the project is more than $2 billion. Although funding is yet to be determined, the truck lanes will not be tolled. Dale said that funding will likely be a combination of state and federal funds. Last year, Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Transportation Funding Act that is worth $10 billion over 10 years.

Lanes created for trucks only is not a new concept, nor is the funding challenge.

In a 2005 article in its publication Public Roads, the Federal Highway Administration addressed the issue of financing truck-only lanes. The assessment was written by David J. Forkenbrock, director of the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center, and Jim March, leader of the Industry and Economic Analysis Team in FHWA's Office of Policy. Their conclusion: tolls.

“Adding truck-only lanes to existing highways would be expensive enough that state and local DOTs are unlikely to find sufficient resources to fund them using traditional sources, such as a state's road-use tax fund,” Forkenbrock and March said. “Therefore, tolls would likely be assessed on users of the improved facility.”

OOIDA Vice President Todd Spencer is also leery of the costs.

“Truck only lanes are not a cost-justifiable option,” Spencer said.

Truck lanes in Georgia are still in the early stages of planning. Three modeling scenarios were used to evaluate potential impacts of the project, but the mandatory environmental assessment still needs to be completed. Public input will be collected during that period.

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