GDOT Finds Support For $2 Billion Truck-Only Lanes

Truck driver Vasile Gargaun stops to fill up his tractor trailer rig at a gas station before a winter snow storm in Emerson, Ga., about 40 miles north of metro Atlanta, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The Atlanta area dodged the first punch of a dangerous winter storm Tuesday, but forecasters warned of a "catastrophic" second blow in the form of a thick layer of ice that threatened to bring widespread power outages and leaving people in their cold, dark homes for days. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Credit David Tulis / Associated Press
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Georgia’s Department of Transportation is considering spending $2 billion to build dedicated lanes for trucks to travel 40 miles between the Atlanta area and Macon.

Darrin Roth of the American Trucking Association said the truck-only highway, with separated lanes from general traffic, would be the first project of its kind in the country. 

The two lanes would be set off by a barrier on Interstate 75 between McDonough in Henry County and Macon.

Roth said there’s a real need for dedicated travel lanes for trucks.

“Unfortunately, we have a lot of car drivers who just don’t know how to drive around trucks and so they’ll get into truck blind spots. They’ll cut in front of them,” Roth said.

Some managed truck lane projects, in both Georgia and the U.S., have been explored before ─ but haven’t moved forward. Often those projects get nixed because of funding or because there’s not enough truck traffic in the proposed areas to justify the cost, Roth said.

Ed Crowell, president of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association, said the truck-only lanes are needed along this 40-mile roadway.

“Very few areas in the country have consistent, heavy truck traffic to the point where it would justify this,” Crowell said. “That particular stretch of road between Macon and Atlanta is one. It’s only going to grow as we expand the port and as the general economy grows in Georgia.”

Another reason similar projects haven’t moved forward elsewhere is because the projects included tolls, which many truckers oppose.

Georgia Department of Transportation Planning Director Jay Roberts said that’s something he can promise he’s not considering.  

“The one thing that is off the table at this time is tolling,” Roberts said.

The lanes are expected to be built within 10 years. Roberts said he expects a steady flow of truck traffic with the expansion of the Savannah port.

The project will be funded through a state fuel tax increase as part of the comprehensive transportation plan passed last year.

Public hearings have yet to be scheduled on the project.