ATLANTA - It's the largest infrastructure project in Georgia history and it's finally complete. Governor Nathan Deal announced Tuesday that the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes, on I-75 and I-575 will open Saturday, September 8. It's a project commuters have been waiting years for.
Reversible toll Express Lanes are a new concept for drivers on the north side of town. Commuters have watched the construction come along for about four years, and finally, the payoff begins for them this Saturday.
It was 2015 when we got our first up-close look at the massive project running alongside I-75 in Cobb County. Flash forward past several years of construction and the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes are finally ready for you and as a bonus, they'll be free for the first two weeks.
"So if you have a Peach Pass, you'll be able to start riding in this reversible lane system starting this Saturday and the great news is, the first 14 days are going to be free. You have to have your Peach Pass to get in the lane but you won't be charged for the first 14 days," explains Georgia DOT Spokesperson Natalie Dale.
Although Express Lanes have been open in the South Metro since early 2017, DOT officials realize it's still a new concept to drivers on the north side of town.
"It's something new to this area and we want to give people the chance to get accustomed to how the lanes reverse, how you use them, how you get in and out of them. So take some time now, while the lanes are going to be pretty empty to get in them, get used to using them, free of charge and see the benefits that they're going to bring," adds Dale.
The 30 miles of Express Lanes stretch up I-75 to Hickory Grove Road and up I-575 to Sixes Road. You'll be able to access the lanes at six interchanges on I-75 and with three slip ramps along I-575. Like existing toll lanes, the dynamic pricing will rise and fall with demand.
"The great thing about this system is, it offers a choice. If you've been sitting in those general purpose lanes, and you need to get home, if you need to get to a doctor's appointment or a soccer game, or you're late getting into the office, you have that choice now where you didn't have that choice before," Dale explains.
The $834 million dollar project was delayed a matter of weeks when a wall panel collapsed. After a forensic investigation, contractors made repairs. "They developed a retrofit to ensure that these walls were sturdy, that they were stable and that they were going to stay put and they did that to all 14 walls, not just the one that collapsed," Dale adds.
The DOT assures drivers the Express Lanes are safe,and ready for you.
"It's mandatory, it's vital, it's necessary for us to have a safe system before we open it. We wanted to be able to say without a doubt that we have a safe system as far as the structure is concerned," says Dale.
This Express Lane project is just one of many now across the metro area. Construction will begin on lanes in 2021 along Georgia-400, then in 2023 Express Lanes will also be added to the Top End of I-285. An official ribbon cutting on the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes will happen next week.