Companies bid for truck-only toll lanes on Atlanta’s I-285

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The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced that it has received four competing proposals to develop truck-only toll lanes on the western side of Interstate 285. The state has yet to determine whether the toll lanes will be voluntary or mandatory.

When first opened in 1969, I-285 was designed to serve as a bypass for Atlanta, but over the years it has evolved into a main artery. Under the state’s public-private initiative law, private companies may propose projects on public roads. The Bush administration encourages such partnerships, in the hope they will enable roads to be built more speedily and with less cost to the taxpayer than in traditional government-funded projects.

The I-285 project originally pitched to the state in May 2006 — by investment bank Goldman, Sachs & Co., law firm McGuire Woods and engineering firm Post, Buckley, Schuh and Jernigan — called for two truck-only toll lanes in each direction along the northwest quadrant of the bypass. This section is traveled by 20,000 heavy trucks per weekday, the companies said. The project also would extend westward on I-20 to Thornton Road, with one truck-only toll lane in each direction. A Georgia DOT advisory committee reviewed the proposal, decided it met qualifications and solicited competitive bids from other private companies.

The newly proposed lanes would connect with another proposed project, an expansion of I-75 north through Cobb and Cherokee counties. A private group called Georgia Transportation Partners, led by Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. and Kiewit Southern Co., got a $38.5 million contract to begin work on that project in May 2006. The two projects, if accepted, are expected to be completed at the same time in 2014.