Last Thursday, Governor Deal announced that the State Transportation Board approved additional funding for a significant overhaul of one of the region’s most congested interchanges, Ga. 400 at I-285. In total, more than $211 million was approved for the reconstruction of the interchange, which is largest funding commitment yet for the estimated $450 million project. This includes $130 million of bonds previously authorized by the General Assembly in 2010 and 2011 in addition to $81.5 million in state motor fuel funds.
While the State Transportation Board was trying to avoid taking on more debt by refraining to sell the previously approved bonds, the decision was made to move forward and sell in order to fill the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) void which is pending insolvency later this year. Historically, the HTF has provided the state with the majority of its transportation projects, however it has been steadily declining due to a combination of a static 18.4% 1993 era federal gas tax, increased CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, and Americans driving less. The bond is expected to be repaid over the next 20 years with the state’s motor fuel taxes.
Similar to the funding partnership achieved for the Northwest Corridor project on I-75/I-575, GDOT plans to seek the remaining funding from a public-private partnership (P3) which will allow the department to make incremental payments across several years without another large bond. With the vote, GDOT estimates the interchange’s reconstruction will be completed two years early, in 2016 rather than 2018. Welcome news indeed, as this notoriously congested interchange that carries 365,000 vehicles a day is in need of this pivotal overhaul.
Governor Deal’s announcement represents the largest funding commitment towards the project yet and adds to the $10 million the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (PCID) committed towards the project a year ago. Thanks to the PCID and their President & CEO Yvonne Williams for not only their previous funding commitment, but also their hard work with GDOT in securing these additional funds towards the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange reconstruction. To read the governor’s press release, click HERE.