Downtown Connector

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I-75.svg I-85.svg

Downtown Connector
James Wendell George Parkway
Route information
Maintained by Georgia DOT
Length 7.40 mi[2] (11.91 km)
Existed 1952[1] – present
Major junctions
South end I-75 / I-85 towards Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
 
North end I-75 / I-85 in Midtown Atlanta
Location
Counties Fulton
Highway system
  • Georgia State Routes
SR 294Georgia 295.svgSR 296

In Downtown Atlanta, the Downtown Connector or I-75/85 (pronounced "seventy-five eighty-five") is the concurrent section of Interstate 75 and Interstate 85 through the core of the city. Beginning at the I-85/Langford Parkway interchange, the Downtown Connector runs generally due north, meeting the west–east I-20 in the middle. Just north of this is the Grady Curve around Grady Memorial Hospital. Continuing north, the terminus of the Downtown Connector is the Brookwood Interchange or Brookwood Split in the Brookwood area of the city. The overall length of the Downtown Connector is approximately 7.5 miles (12 km).[2] Since the 2000s, it has been officially named James Wendell George Parkway for most of its length, although it is still designated the Connector in the mainstream. It also has unsigned designations State Route 401 (I-75) and State Route 403 (I-85) along its length, due to I-75 and I-85 having a 400-series reference numbers.

History[edit]

The Downtown Connector had its origins in the city's original system of expressways, construction of which began in the early 1950s with the Northeast Expressway and the South Expressway. Construction of the "connector" between the two, which was numbered State Route 295,[3] and was slated to carry US 19/US 41 at one point, was not completed until the early 1960s.[4]

Downtown Connector/Freedom Parkway Interchange what would have been I-485

Initial construction of the highway displaced parts of Techwood Drive and Williams Street in Midtown Atlanta. It also destroyed street grids east and south of downtown, dividing Sweet Auburn in two and the interchange with I-20 leveling the northern part of the Washington-Rawson district. The proposed I-485 was originally planned by the Georgia Department of Transportation to carry some south–north traffic through the eastern side of the city, but most of this was canceled in the 1970s by the then-governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter (Parts of that road are now I-675 and SR 400). [5]

The highway was heavily reconstructed during the 1980s as part of GDOT's Freeing the Freeways program to widen Atlanta-area freeways, with most of the Connector's width being doubled from three to six or seven lanes in each direction. [6] The project included work to increase lanes from six to eight on I-20, I-75, I-85, and I-285 ("The Perimeter"), as well as ten lanes on the downtown connector, involving 126 total miles and was phased over 13 years between 1976 and 1988. The improvement campaign also included elimination of sharp curves and grades, left-hand exits, excessive interchanges, and short acceleration/deceleration lanes.

So as to offer a bypass around construction through the center of the city, the perimeter road (I-285) was completed first. The radiating expressways were then upgraded, and the last phase was reconstruction of the depressed sections through downtown Atlanta. By June 1983, some $252 million in discretionary funds had been used to complete most of the highways save for some major interchanges and the downtown section. The eight miles of the downtown section, which includes the 4.4-mile long downtown connector, was the most complicated section of the entire reconstruction. Work was started on it in 1984, and it included redesigning the massive interchange between I-20 and I-75/85 at Memorial Drive where much of the mileage was on structure. The downtown connector was to be widened to ten lanes, and this required quite a bit of right of way acquisition. Many bridges, including the 55 over the connector portion alone, had to be designed and built. [7] In addition to the general-purpose lanes, provisions for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and dedicated on-ramps at Williams Street, Piedmont Avenue, and Memorial Drive were built, and were subsequently converted to HOV usage in 1996.

Between 2000 and 2004, the six-lane wide 17th Street Bridge was constructed over the Brookwood Interchange, connecting Midtown Atlanta with the then-new Atlantic Station development. In 2008, reconstruction of the 14th Street Bridge took place in order to accommodate increased traffic flow and pedestrian amenities. This work also included the construction of two new off-ramps: a southbound ramp to 10th Street, and a northbound ramp to 17th Street. This work was completed on May 28, 2010.

In early January 2010, a section of the highway between 14th and 17th streets developed an unusual problem dubbed "phantom ice" during a prolonged cold wave that kept temperatures below freezing for several days in the Atlanta region. GDOT engineers believe that heavy rain in previous months raised the water table and caused it to seep upward through joints between lanes, where it subsequently froze. Commuter traffic was stopped briefly on at least two days in order to treat it with deicing materials and inspect the freeway to determine the cause.[8]

In January 2016, GDOT started a study of the Downtown Connector. Citing high levels of congestion that occur outside of peak periods, the purpose of the study is to gather data and explore options for reducing congestion.[9] Data collection took place all year in 2016, and the data is being analyzed and options evaluated throughout 2017 and 2018. The study is expected to be completed in 2019.[10] The study has already released their data on their website, including nine "Hot Spots", or dangerous and congested points that could most benefit from design improvements,[11] and a detailed analysis of traffic in the whole metro area and how it relates to traffic on the Downtown Connector.[12]

Features[edit]

The Downtown Connector carries more than 437,000 vehicles per day at its busiest point — just south of 10th Street in Midtown, while the least traveled portion carries 243,000 vehicles per day — just south of Fulton Street, near the interchange with Interstate 20.[13] The area around the connector and associated interchanges are considered one of the ten-most congested stretches of interstate in the U.S.[14] Due to this fact, many motorists often compare Atlanta to Los Angeles, which is also known for its notoriously-congested freeway system.

The highway is fully instrumented with Intelligent transportation system (ITS) devices. There are more than 25 closed-circuit television cameras between the Langford Parkway interchange (south end) and the Brookwood Interchange (north end). Additionally, the Downtown Connector has three large overhead electronic message signs, and four smaller HOV-dedicated message signs on the median barrier wall. Traffic flow data is gathered through a video detection system, using pole-mounted black-and-white cameras spaced every 13 mile (0.54 km) on both sides of the roadway. All video and data is fed into the GDOT's Transportation Management Center (TMC), via fiber optic cable located under the shoulders of the roadway. Virtually all entrance ramps are metered, with the exception of the freeway-to-freeway connection ramps from I-20.

Atlanta's skyline, both Downtown and Midtown, can be seen from the highway, especially at the northern and southern ends.

Gallery[edit]

Exit list[edit]

Exit numbers follow the mileposts along I-75.The entire route is in Atlanta, Fulton County.

mikmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
0.00.087242 I-85 south – ATL Airport (Domestic), Montgomery, Columbus
I-75 south – ATL Airport (International and Air Cargo), Macon, Tampa
Southbound exit and northbound entrance; freeway continues with HOV lanes to and from I-75 to the south (no HOV ramps to or from I-85 to the south)
0.60.9788243 SR 166 (Langford Parkway) – East Point
1.72.789244University Avenue, Pryor Street
2.54.090245Abernathy Boulevard, Capitol Avenue – Georgia State Stadium (Formally Turner Field)Northbound exit and southbound entrance
2.74.391246Fulton Street, Central Avenue – DowntownSouthbound has no exit to Central Avenue, entrance is from Pulliam Street
3.25.192247 I-20 (Ralph D. Abernathy Freeway) – Birmingham, Augusta
3.15.0Memorial DriveHOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
3.96.393248AMartin Luther King Jr. Drive – State CapitolSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
4.47.194248BEdgewood Avenue, Auburn Avenue, J.W. Dobbs AvenueNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
4.67.496248C SR 10 east (Freedom Parkway) / Andrew Young International Boulevard – Carter Center
5.08.095248DJ.W. Dobbs Avenue, Edgewood AvenueSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
4.67.495APiedmont AvenueHOV ramps for northbound exit and southbound entrance
5.58.997249ACourtland Street – Georgia State UniversitySouthbound exit only
5.79.298249BPine Street, Peachtree Street – Civic CenterNorthbound exit only
5.89.399249CWilliams Street – Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena, Mercedes-Benz StadiumNo northbound exit
6.09.799Willams StreetHOV ramps for southbound exit and northbound entrance
5.99.5100249DSpring Street, West Peachtree StreetNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
6.210.0100249D US 29 / US 78 / US 278 / SR 8 (North Avenue) – Georgia TechSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
6.911.110125010th Street, 14th Street – Georgia TechNorthbound exit and southbound entrance
6.710.810225016th Street, 14th Street, 10th StreetSouthbound exit from and northbound entrance to I-75 only; I-85 has a southbound exit to 17th-14th-10th streets (exit 84) but no northbound entrance
7.011.3251A17th Street – MidtownNorthbound exit only
7.411.9103251B I-85 north to SR 400 north – Greenville, Charlotte
I-75 north – Marietta, Chattanooga
Left exits in both directions; main HOV lanes on Downtown Connector continue to and from I-85 to the north; freeway continues as I-75 beyond I-85 north with direct HOV ramps provided to and from I-75 to the north.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

  1. ^ State Highway Department of Georgia (1952). System of State Roads (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Atlanta: State Highway Department of Georgia. OCLC 5673161. Retrieved July 15, 2016.  (Corrected to January 1, 1952.)
  2. ^ a b Google (July 30, 2016). "Route of Downtown Connector (I-75/85)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved July 30, 2016. 
  3. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20070417221207/http://www.geocities.com/garoadwarrior76/garoutelog281_300.html Accessed January 23, 2007
  4. ^ http://www.geocities.com/garoadwarrior76/SR295_1956[dead link] Accessed January 23, 2007
  5. ^ "http://www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGeorgia/CentennialHome/Documents/Historical%20Documents/HistoricalContextof%20GeorgiaInterstates.pdf"
  6. ^ "http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,968392,00.html"
  7. ^ "http://www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGeorgia/CentennialHome/Documents/Historical%20Documents/HistoricalContextof%20GeorgiaInterstates.pdf"
  8. ^ http://www.11alive.com/news/news_story.aspx?storyid=139424&catid=40
  9. ^ "Downtown Connector Study". GDOT. Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  10. ^ "Downtown Connector Study Fact Sheet" (PDF). GDOT. Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  11. ^ "Downtown Connector Impacts Hot Spot Map" (PDF). GDOT. Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  12. ^ "EXISTING VOLUME DEVELOPMENT AND ORIGIN-DESTINATION DATA" (PDF). GDOT. Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  13. ^ "Downtown Connector Study Fact Sheet" (PDF). Downtown Connector Study. Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved 25 June 2018. 
  14. ^ "Worst City Choke Points". Forbes. 6 February 2006. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata