Signage facing the opposite direction of traffic going south on I-75 will direct motorists along the managed lanes. The project is expected to be open in September 2018.
Staff-Kelly J. Huff (File photo)
MARIETTA — Cobb drivers should expect to see shorter drive times to and from Atlanta through the county starting September.
That’s when state transportation department officials expect to open the $834 million Northwest Corridor project, which includes about 30 miles of reversible toll lanes that will run south in the mornings and north in the evenings.
County commissioners received an update on the project during their work session on Monday.
Crews have completed about 85 percent of the project, which follows Interstate 75 from Akers Mill Road in Cumberland to Hickory Grove Road near the Cherokee County line and along I-575 from I-75 in Marietta to Sixes Road in Holly Springs, according to Jill Goldberg, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Northwest Express Roadbuilders, the company building the managed lanes, broke ground on the project in September 2014.
Toll rates will vary based on traffic conditions, Goldberg said, and drivers will be able to see the prices on overhead signs before entering the managed lanes.
Rates for the Northwest Corridor lanes have not been set but are expected to be priced between 10-90 cents per mile with a 50-cent minimum trip cost, Goldberg said. Rates likely to be set in July or August, she added.
Commissioner Bob Weatherford, whose northwest Cobb district abuts the west side of Interstate 75, asked whether drivers would be willing to pay close to $15 to get from the project’s northwestern most access point to Cumberland.
“You decide if that money is worth your time savings. Maybe you don’t use it every day, maybe you use it when you have a meeting,” Goldberg said.
GDOT estimates predict that drivers who use the managed lanes will save up to 43 minutes on their commutes, Goldberg said. Drivers who opt to use the interstates’ existing lanes will save an estimated 16 minutes due to drivers leaving those regular traffic lanes in favor of the express toll lanes.
Those wishing to use the lanes will be required to have a Peach Pass, which are usable on Gwinnett’s managed lanes and the I-75 south Metro Express Lanes in Henry County that opened last year. Drivers with a Peach Pass can also utilize the express or toll lanes within the states of Florida and North Carolina, with Goldberg saying future states that could one day be added onto the Peach Pass include Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.