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State: I-75 toll lanes moving forward as expected


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  Construction on the new managed toll lanes on I-75 through the middle of Henry County should begin within the next two months.

  Officials with the state Department of Transportation briefed the Henry County Board of Commissioners on the project at the board’s August 5 regular meeting, saying that it is now in the design phase and ground is expected to be broken no later than October.

  One reason for the update was to encourage the commissioners to help in whatever way possible to build public awareness and support usage of the lanes once they are completed.

  During their PowerPoint presentation, state officials displayed the new logo for the “Georgia Express Lanes I-75 South Metro,” as the project is now being called.

  Expected benefits from the new lanes include improved mobility, increased reliability, greater choice in daily travel, improved transit, better economic viability and greater economic development in the area. Touting the increased usage of current toll lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett County, state officials said the system has “proven performance.”

  The project in Henry County includes 12 miles of newly constructed roadway within the median of I-75 between Exit 228 in Stockbridge (Hwy. 138) and Exit 216 in McDonough (Hwy. 155). The lanes will be reversible, allowing for northbound travel in the morning and southbound travel in the evening to coincide with rush-hour traffic in and out of Atlanta. Traffic flow can be adjusted to support special events such as NASCAR races and spring break travel, officials said.

  Motorists will be required to register for and use the Peach Pass to drive in the toll lanes.

In response to a question from the board, one official said that additional signage will be erected showing motorists where they can and cannot exit along the route.

  The new toll lanes are expected to be open for traffic in the winter of late 2016 or early 2017.

  In the meantime, there will be additional briefings and a host of information distributed on web sites and via social media to better inform local residents about the coming changes. State officials said they will be looking for whatever local assistance they can get to make that happen.

  In other business at the Board of Commissioners meeting:

  •A contract for $385,000 was approved to furnish food supplies for Henry County Senior Services’ meal preparation during the 2014-15 fiscal year. The department provides weekday meals at two senior center cafeterias and one catered cafeteria, delivering meals to homebound seniors as well as providing meals for those who visit the Heritage and Hidden Valley senior centers. All meals are prepared in-house by county staff.

  •Authorization was given to spend $66,741.90 in SPLOST funds for the purchase and installation of equipment for 15 of the 30 new Dodge Charger patrol vehicles recently acquired for the Henry County Police Department.

  • Henry County Animal Care & Control received a $5,000 donation from the Stanton Foundation. The funds are to be used by the county’s animal shelter to “explore innovative approaches to increase dog adoptions,” according to county officials.

  • A rezoning from residential to commercial was granted for the lot at 3548 Jodeco Road, to allow Clark Pest Remedy to move there from its current location at 3631 Jodeco Road. That tract is being acquired by the county for the future Campground Road extension project. A rezoning request requires a public hearing, but no one spoke for or against the request.



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