ATLANTA - Brace yourself drivers. The summer construction season is really ramping up. It's National Transportation Week and as we move into summer, expect to see even more orange barrels out there.
This year the Department of Transportation celebrates 100 years. We all know, summertime means lighter rush hours. When fewer drivers are on the road, the DOT also knows, it's their time to get to work. Construction will be everywhere. Don't say you weren't warned.
Potholes, faded lines and rough roads. DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry is the first to admit, some of Georgia's roads need work. "Our road conditions and roadway conditions have degraded to conditions that we're not proud of," McMurry says.
His agency is working to get them back up to shape though, now that lawmakers have green lighted the transportation funding act. "This state is doing so many great things and the opportunity that's in front of us now, with funding. Having funding at the state level and at the federal level really is going to give the ability to do things we haven't been able to do in a number of years," adds McMurry.
Construction projects are planned for all over the metro area. Every major interstate will have some work happening.
I-75/I-85: Crews will be repaving the Downtown Connector in Fulton County.
I-575/I-75: Expect construction to continue in Cobb and Cherokee Counties for the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes.
I-75: South of the city, in Henry and Clayton Counties, the Express Lane project there is more than half way complete.
I-285: There will be road work in several sections around The Perimeter in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb Counties.
I-20: The Westside of I-20, in Douglas and Cobb Counties, will get some desperately needed repaving to repair the hundreds of potholes made worse by the wear and tear of tractor trailers.
I-85: Later this year Gwinnett County will see new HOT lanes, stretching from Old Peachtree Road, where they end now all the way up to Hamilton Mill Road in Buford.
GA-400: The widening has already begun between McFarland Parkway and SR-369 in Forsyth County.
"We are very excited to be able to do this work, but to do this work means we will have traffic impacts and we're going to try to minimize those to the maximum extent possible, but we want you to be aware and let you know to plan ahead so you can avoid them and be ready," warns Commissioner McMurry.
He also wants to urge drivers to slow down and pay attention in those work zones. Earlier this month, an employee was hit and critically injured while working in a construction zone. That employee is still in intensive care. "These ladies and men out there working on our roadways, they're just trying to do their job and we want them all to go home safely every night, so please as you get into these work zones, please pay attention and watch out for those workers out there," Commissioner McMurray adds.
The state campaign, "Drive Alert, Arrive Alive" is marking it's one year anniversary. Commissioner McMurry says there are serious issues Georgians have to address. "Driving in this morning, I saw somebody texting and driving and almost side swipe another vehicle. It is just not worth it. It is just not worth it," he states.
Last year, we saw the first increase in traffic fatalities in nearly ten years. A majority of the wrecks are single vehicle wrecks, where the drivers weren't wearing seat belts. "For whatever reason, people are losing control and without a lot of direct evidence, we know that distracted driving has to play a part in that," concludes Commissioner McMurray.
The DOT is encouraging you to check 511 for the very latest construction information, before you plan any trips or outings this summer.