FLOVILLA – Possible relief for traffic on Interstate 75 south of McDonough may be a few years out, but it would come in the form of truck-exclusive lanes.
The $1.8 billion project would produce 40 miles of truck lanes on Interstate 75 from its interchange with Ga. Highway 155 in McDonough south to the road’s interchange with Interstate 475.
The proposed truck lane was discussed Thursday morning at a meeting of the 75 Central Corridor Coalition, featuring government officials from areas as far south as Macon-Bibb County and as far north as Henry County, including those from Griffin, Butts County, Forsyth, Jackson and others.
The truck lanes would be primarily northbound lanes east of the existing lanes from Interstate 475 to McDonough, and if all goes according to plan, could reduce commercial vehicle travel time by 10 to 12 percent, said Matthew Fowler, program delivery manager with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Fowler said construction on the road should start around 2025, but GDOT is seeking ways to expedite that timeline.
Fowler explained that the amount of freight transported by truck, which accounts for 85 percent of all freight shipped in the state, is only increasing.
In terms of monetary values, freight levels are only increasing, he said. Freight transported by truck was valued at $537.7 billion in 2015 and is projected to increase to $993.6 billion in 2040.
In addition, Fowler said 70 percent of all trucks that enter Georgia have a final destination within the state.
“Practically everything in your house was delivered by truck,” Fowler said.
An estimated 75,000-90,000 vehicles travel the 40-mile stretch of I-75 per day, Fowler said, and of that, 35 percent of those vehicles are trucks. In the future, that traffic is expected to increase to 120,000-150,000 vehicles per day, with 40 percent of those vehicles being trucks. Sixty percent of those vehicles go northbound while 40 percent go southbound.
In addition, trucks are involved in, on average, one accident per week on the road, and truck drivers typically add one hour of travel buffer time in the corridor to ensure an on-time delivery.
“What they can’t do is show up late,” Fowler said. “If you’re supposed to be there at 3 p.m., you show up at 3 p.m. Showing up at 3:20 doesn’t work, and we all do that too as motorists.”
The corridor was tapped as a prime spot for truck lanes as McDonough, referred to in Fowler’s presentation as a “freight intensive cluster,” is seen as a convenient location to drop freight off from the Port of Savannah, which has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years.
In addition, the warehouses of McDonough contain 13 percent of the metro Atlanta area’s warehouse and distribution centers and the largest average size of warehouses in the region.
McDonough’s warehouses and distribution centers average around 543,000 square feet compared to a 200,000 to 300,000 average in the rest of the region.