Henry County commissioners have approved an agreement with Georgia DOT to build a new interchange. The board approved the item during its June 2 meeting. The county will now contribute $5 million dollars towards the project’s construction. Georgia DOT is in charge of project delivery.
The board considered the agreement earlier in the year. At the time, board members requested Georgia DOT budget the cost difference of the project. Since then, GDOT has committed $113 million dollars in funding for the new exit. The state previously provided $1 million in late 2019 to start design work. The city of Locust Grove also contributed $1 million in design costs. In total, the project has nearly $120 million dollars in funding.
Voters approved the SPLOST IV program in November 2013. It included $5.5 million for a new interchange. Before design work could begin, the first steps required a feasibility study and justification report. Both documents were pre-requisite to gaining FHWA approval. The Federal Highway Administration conditionally approved the exit in fall 2018.
Georgia DOT intends to use a design-build contract for the project. By utilizing the design-build process, it allows GDOT to accelerate the project delivery. The consultant presently on board will assist the state in completing roughly 30% of design. Then, GDOT will award a second firm both the rest of design and construction in one contract.
Right of way acquisition funding is in fiscal year 2023. Construction funding is in FY 2024. The state expects to open the new exit alongside the I-75 truck lanes in late 2027.
The interchange will be near Bethlehem Road in Locust Grove. Based on previous discussions, its expected the exit will use a new bridge over I-75. Bethlehem Road will also be re-aligned to avoid historic impacts, such as the church and cemetery. More info will be available during a public information open house. The future open house will display a concept layout and accept public feedback.
When complete, the new exit will offer an alternative to highway 155 and Bill Gardner Parkway. The feasibility study estimated up to 50% of truck traffic on SR 155 would divert to a new exit. It also estimated up to 20% of traffic on Bill Gardner Pkwy would use the new exit.
Featured image shows I-75 North near Bethlehem Road with a custom road sign. Photo credit Google Maps and the Sign Maker by Brendon Strowe.
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