Interstate 75 in McDonough continues its year-to-year climb up a national ranking list, though its placement is not an award anyone necessarily wants. I-75 ranked 12th in the national truck bottleneck ranking for 2022. Comparatively, the location was 31st one year ago and 62nd in 2020.
In addition to McDonough, a second Henry County location also made the 2022 list. I-75 at I-675 makes an appearance at spot 52. The 2021 rankings did not include this spot. Its inclusion is likely contributed to last year’s concrete rehab project. The road work resulted in frequent double-lane closures during overnight hours. This caused a drop in average hourly speeds between 8 pm to midnight at the location.
National Truck Bottleneck Ranking 2022
The American Transportation Research Institute releases the annual ranking. They publish the list after reviewing GPS data from over one million trucks. The company considers 300+ freight-significant highway locations when compiling the list.
The report found average speeds decreased in McDonough from 2020 to 2021. The following is a comparison for I-75 travel speeds:
|Peak Average Speed||49.3||44.0|
|Non-peak Average Speed||53.1||49.5|
The reduction in average speeds reflect a 10.9% decrease during peak hours year-to-year. When considering 2019 data, the report found a 10.8% decrease in peak hour speed. 2019 data compared to 2021 can provide a better comparison because traffic volumes were lower in 2020. Either way, travel speeds in McDonough are worse now than years’ past.
Truck speeds begin to slow at lunchtime before returning to non-peak hours speeds by 9 o’clock. The report found trucks have their slowest average speed around 35 mph between 4–5 pm. The report considers 55 mph to be free-flowing traffic.
Other Georgia locations
This year, nine Georgia locations made the report. Last year, Georgia had seven spots in the top 100. The 2022 rankings include the following:
- #4: I-285 at I-85 (Spaghetti Junction) [3rd last year]
- #5: I-20 at I-285 (West) [4th one year ago]
- #12: I-75 at McDonough [31st]
- #14: I-75 at I-285 (Cobb Cloverleaf) [16th]
- #18: I-285 at GA 400 [not ranked]
- #21: I-20 at I-285 (East) [25th]
- #45: I-20 at I-75/85 (Downtown) [52nd]
- #62: I-75 at I-85 (Midtown) [68th]
Nationally, the worst truck bottleneck was the George Washington bridge between New Jersey and New York City. The bridge has held the top spot four years running. Closer to home, the I-75 at I-24 interchange in Chattanooga ranked #10. This interchange recently completed a major overhaul. Next year’s rankings will be interesting to see how much the Chattanooga location improves.
The Need for Improvements
The annual ranking further illustrates the need for improvements to I-75 in McDonough. Though the express lanes opened in January 2017, their reversible pattern does not help northbound traffic in the afternoons.
Presently, Georgia’s largest planned project along I-75 includes two northbound truck-only lanes between Macon and McDonough. Specifically, the lanes start at I-475 and plan to terminate near Bethlehem Road. The state has cited cost factors and available right of way as major barriers to extending the lanes further north.
In 2016, the county’s transportation plan recommended Henry County pursue a feasibility study to add collector-distributor (CD) lanes on I-75. Through traffic models, the 2016 plan found CD lanes would be more efficient at reducing travel delays than simply widening I-75 to eight general purpose lanes. The study limits would be from Eagles Landing Parkway to state route 155. The county has not carried out the feasibility study to date.
Collector-distributor lanes provide extra lanes for motorists when they are entering or exiting the interstate. This helps to separate local traffic from through traffic. It allows through traffic to maintain a higher speed on the main lanes.
The 2016 transportation plan estimated the cost of the feasibility study at $500,000. Furthermore, it estimated the build cost of the CD system at $840 million. The build estimate included two new lanes in each direction between Eagles Landing Parkway and SR 155. The county is presently undergoing its five-year update to the transportation plan.
Featured image shows an aerial photo of I-75 in McDonough. Credit to Doug Turnbull / WSB Traffic.
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