A $598.5 million contract for design and construction to build reversible toll lanes on the shoulder of Interstate 75 and Interstate 575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties was approved last week by the Georgia Transportation Board.
The wide-ranging agreement with Northwest Express Roadbuilders (NWER), a joint venture of Archer Western Contractors, LLC, of Atlanta, and Hubbard Construction Company, a Florida firm, also spells out various financial, construction and operational agreements between the Georgia Department of Transportation, which will oversee design and building of the Northwest Corridor project, and the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), which will operate the 30 miles of managed lanes.
The Public Private Partnership (P3) agreement finalized the July 23 selection of NWER as the state’s private sector partner.
The contract agreement must be approved by the State Roadway and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and the Georgia State Investment Commission. Pending those approvals, state officials expect to sign the final contract in November. Work is set to begin in 2014, and the Northwest Corridor project is scheduled to open to traffic in 2018.
NWER’s best value proposal of $599 million is the largest element of the Northwest Corridor project’s overall cost estimate, which now stands at $840 million.
“We’ve been working towards this moment for years,” Transportation Board Chairman Jay Shaw said regarding the board’s unanimous approval. “It is gratifying to finally be able to tell the hundreds of thousands of motorists who use this corridor that their patience has been appreciated and that better mobility choices truly are coming.”
The project, said Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) spokesman David Spear, is by far the largest project in GDOT history — the new managed lanes will be financed by a combination of federal, state and private sector funds provided by NWER.
The Northwest Corridor project will build two new managed toll lanes along the west side of I-75 between its interchanges with Interstates 285 and 575. The lanes will be barrier-separated from the existing interstate and will be reversible so that both will carry traffic southbound during morning commute hours and northbound in the evenings.
Above the I-575 interchange, one new reversible lane will be added in the I-75 center median to Hickory Grove Road and a similar new I-575 lane will extend to Sixes Road.
Motorists will be able to utilize the I-75 and I-575 express lanes as well as other managed lanes system roadways by choosing to participate in SRTA’s Peach Pass program, which uses remote transponders to assess variable-rate tolls based on traffic volumes.
Vehicles will access the managed lane system via six new interchanges on I-75 and slip ramp access points from existing lanes on I-575.