Northwest Corridor Express Lanes

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Northwest Corridor Express Lanes
The Tollercoaster
Route information
Maintained by GDOT
Length29.7 mi[1] (47.8 km)
Existed2018–present
Component
highways
RestrictionsPeach Pass required for use
Major junctions
South end I-75 in Cumberland
 
North end I-75 in Acworth
I-575 Express Lane
South end I-75 / SR 5 in Kennesaw
North end I-575 / SR 5 in Canton
Highway system
  • Georgia State Routes

The Northwest Corridor Express Lanes (formerly Northwest Corridor HOV/BRT) and locally known as the Tollercoaster,[2] is a completed Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) project which has put Peach Pass-only toll lanes along Interstate 75 (I-75) and I-575 in the northwestern suburbs of the Atlanta metropolitan area. It carries traffic between northwest Atlanta and Cobb and Cherokee counties by adding two lanes for paying vehicles along I-75, with one continuing up a dedicated exit onto I-575 to Sixes Road (mile 11, former exit 6), and the other straight on I-75 to Hickory Grove Road, just past Wade Green Road (mile 273, former exit 118). North of the interchange where they split, the new lanes are located in the median, between the original northbound and southbound lanes. From the Perimeter (I-285 on the north side) to I-575, the road had already been built with 12 to 16 lanes, which required other plans, including via eminent domain

History[edit]

Original plans[edit]

HOV-only exits would be built at roads which currently cross the highways, but have no access to it. Bus stations would also be built at these points, with park-and-ride parking lots. New lanes would be divided from the regular ones by concrete barriers, not just by white double-stripes as was done by GDOT inside the Perimeter. There were originally no plans to allow or even design for later contraflow lane usage for rush hours.

Truck lanes[edit]

There were also plans to add two truck-only lanes in each direction, further expanding the highway by another six lanes (including emergency lanes). Separating traffic was proposed because it would smooth traffic and make the main lanes safer for cars. However, it would also effectively end the subsidy the industry gets by using roads which are mainly paid-for by the public (in contrast with railroads, which maintain their own tracks and pay per-mile taxes on them on top of that).

Plans scaled back[edit]

Citing the enormous cost of the plan (around four billion dollars), in summer 2009 it was scaled back to putting two barrier-separated reversible lanes on I-75 to I-575, and one in the median on each road north of there. There would no longer be HOV exits on I-575, just slip roads to northbound and from southbound lanes for access to and from regular exits. It was not stated how much land would be taken on the southern portion. There was already a provision for a future HOV exit in the median at the Terrell Mill Road underpass, however the remainder has no median, only a wide left shoulder and a concrete barrier. It was also left unknown how the lanes would tie into the interchange at I-285.

Completion[edit]

The project was completed and opened to traffic on September 8, 2018. The Cobb County bus system (CobbLinc) and the state-funded commuter bus system (GRTA Xpress)[3] shifted the bus routes previously using I-75 or I-575 to the express toll lanes. When the lanes were opened to the public on September 8 they were toll-free for a two week trial period; however, all who used the lanes during that time were still required to have a Peach Pass (which has a minimum $20 toll load, plus other fees) to access it. Unlike the northeast express lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett, the northwest lanes are still charging high-occupancy vehicles and alternative-fuel vehicles. In 2018, the trade publication Roads & Bridges named the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes the number one road project of 2018 in the United States.[4]

Criticism[edit]

Criticisms of the plan include adding yet more lanes to already-oversized highways, and adding traffic to smaller roads by putting exits on them. Another major criticism is that it fails to consider commuter rail, light rail, or any other rail system seriously as an alternative. There are already state-owned rail tracks running CSX freight trains parallel to I-75, and Georgia Northeastern Railroad tracks branching off parallel to I-575, which would cost far less in terms of both money and disruption from construction. Though cleaner-burning natural gas buses would likely be used, there are no plans that call for them to be trolleybuses with an overhead double-catenary system, such as in Seattle and Vancouver. Part of the problem is also that Georgia's constitution prohibits state gasoline tax money from being spent on anything except roads, which makes other alternatives very difficult to fund, even though their entire intent is to relieve roads.[citation needed]

Cobb County is also considering a bus rapid transit system, but along Cobb Parkway instead, which a study showed would worsen traffic there. The state has abandoned BRT as a part of the Northwest Corridor project, although the city of Marietta has still purchased and demolished some of the affordable apartments that were to be eliminated for one of the BRT stations.[citation needed]

Future[edit]

The United States Department of Transportation awarded Cobb County a grant that will help pay for a project to install an exit ramp between the southern terminus of the express lanes and Akers Mill Road. The new ramp would improve access to Cumberland Boulevard from the express lanes. Cobb County's Department of Transportation expects to begin construction of the ramp in 2021.[5]

Junction list[edit]

The mile markings of the express lanes shares the same numbering as the mainline interstates.

Interstate 75 Express Lanes[edit]

The entire route is in Cobb County.

LocationmikmExitDestinationsNotes
Cumberland258415 I-75 south (SR 401 south) – Downtown AtlantaAccess to northbound express lanes, southbound exit to mainline (depending on the flow of traffic)
259417 I-285 (Atlanta Bypass / SR 407) – Birmingham, Tampa, Augusta, Greenville
Marietta260.6419.4Terrell Mill Road
264.2425.2 SR 3 Conn. (Roswell Road) to SR 120 – Marietta
Kennesaw268.2431.6 I-575 (I-575 Express Lane / SR 417) – CantonNorthbound exit to I-575 Express Lane, southbound entrance to I-75 Express Lane (depending on the flow of traffic)
270.6435.5Big Shanty Road
Acworth274441Hickory Grove RoadNorthbound exit to Hickory Grove Road, southbound entrance to express lane (depending on the flow of traffic)
275443 I-75 north (SR 401 north) – ChattanoogaAccess to southound express lanes, northbound exit to mainline (depending on the flow of traffic)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Interstate 575 Express Lane[edit]

CountyLocationmikmExitDestinationsNotes
CobbKennesaw00.0 I-75 south (I-75 Express Lanes / SR 401 south) / SR 5 south – AtlantaNorthbound exit to I-575 Express Lane, southbound entrance to I-75 Express Lane (depending on the flow of traffic)
0.71.1Southbound entrance to I-575 Express Lane
1.42.3Northbound exit to I-575
5.48.7Northbound exit to I-575, southbound entrance to I-575 Express Lane (depending on the flow of traffic)
CherokeeCanton1016 I-575 north (SR 417) / SR 5 north – CantonAccess to southound express lanes, northbound exit to mainline (depending on the flow of traffic)
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Northwest Corridor". Georgia Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  2. ^ Wickert, David (November 13, 2018). "'Tollercoaster' express lanes make an impact on metro Atlanta traffic". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  3. ^ "Northwest express lanes to open Saturday in bid to boost mobility for commuters, truckers". Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "Top 10 Roads 2018". Roads & Bridges. Arlington Heights, Illinois. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  5. ^ Dixon, Kristal. "$5 million grant awarded for I-75 express lane exit ramp in Cobb". Retrieved August 9, 2019.

External links[edit]

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