Truck lanes planned to terminate south of McDonough

Concept photo of the truck lanes with text “FAQ: why are the truck lanes ending south of McDonough?” (special photo)

The Georgia Department of Transportation held a virtual presentation and Q&A session about the I-75 Commercial Vehicle Lanes project on Wednesday, December 2. Following the event and based on comments on social media, the most frequently asked question has been the truck lanes’ planned northern terminus south of McDonough.

As a reminder, the state’s virtual open house remains available until December 15. Residents may submit public comments until then. GDOT will provide a formal response to comments received approximately thirty days after the close of the comments period.

The project’s northern terminus was selected based on the following:

  • traffic analysis of the corridor,
  • the existing freight cluster in McDonough that serves as the destination point for many northbound tractor-trailers, and
  • the I-75 South Metro Express Lanes that provide additional capacity in the northbound direction during the AM peak hours.

Express lane usage has not returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Average weekday usage was more than 9,200 vehicles during the first week of October — the most recent data available for a recent article.

Separate from the I-75 CVL project, Georgia DOT and Locust Grove are collaborating to advance the Bethlehem Road interchange. When constructed, estimates state fifty percent of truck volume on SR 155 will divert to the new exit. The next phase of the project is preliminary engineering, including the completion of an environmental impact study. PE requires an estimated four years.

I-75 Auxiliary Lanes

The truck lanes project includes planned auxiliary lanes on I-75 North between the end of the CVLs and state route 155, and state routes 155 and 20. Auxiliary lanes provide additional length for vehicles to merge lanes before the next exit.

Moving Henry Forward founder Clayton Carte has previously indicated support for auxiliary lanes on I-75 in Henry County. Local leadership should engage in dialogue with Georgia DOT about programming these improvements:

  • Auxiliary lane on I-75 North between Jonesboro Road and Jodeco Road
  • Lengthening the merge area for the I-75 North on-ramp at state route 20
  • Auxiliary lane on I-75 South between Hudson Bridge Road and Jodeco Road
  • Auxiliary lane on I-75 South between state route 20 and state route 155

Operational improvements, like those referenced above, can be planned separate from the truck lanes project and implemented on a quicker timeframe.

Industrial Development along I-75 corridor

Finally, the truck only lanes project supports the forecast growth in freight traffic from the port of Savannah expansion. The port has plans to double their annual container capacity by 2030 to 11 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs).

With a growing demand for e-commerce distribution space and the port’s expansion, industrial development continues in the I-75 corridor. The corridor includes Butts, Henry, Monroe and Spalding Counties. For every $1 billion dollars in additional e-commerce sales, companies need 1.25 million square feet of new distribution space.1

The Atlanta market leads the nation with 24.8 million square feet of industrial space under construction, according to CBRE research. Solely e-commerce needs require an additional eight million square feet by 2025.

The Henry County freight cluster has approximately 25 million square feet of industrial space with an additional 15 MSF planned. Projects planned are located off SR 42 in Locust Grove and the ClayCo development off Price Drive. Infill projects are also occurring within Greenwood Industrial and on Declaration Drive.

In Monroe County, the Meridian 75 Logistics Center located off Rumble Road is a 186-acre business park. The park can support up to 2.95 million square feet of warehousing and distribution space. Five Below was the first major tenant to locate at the development in 2019.

In Butts and Spalding County, plans call for up to twenty million square feet of space at River Park. The development is located off I-75 at Georgia 16. The project includes over 1,200 acres of new development. Development outside of River Park, located on the west side of I-75, has also occurred.

1. U.S. Real Estate Market Outlook 2021, CBRE Research page 23

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