County Department of Transportation District 1 Engineer Michael Wright said the Big Shanty Road project, also known as the Big Shanty Connector, will greatly alleviate east to west traffic in the area when it is complete. The Journal conducted a question and answer session with Wright to get the facts on the project.
Q. What exactly is happening on I-75 in anticipation of the project?
A. The new Big Shanty Road will be constructed to pass under I-75. So, 75 traffic will be shifted temporarily to a new roadway in the median. Then, the current road will be demolished and bridges constructed in its place. Then, the road will be shifted to the bridge and Big Shanty will be completed under the new bridges. No traffic will be detoured from Big Shanty to I-75, as there will be no connection between the two.
The project is divided into three phases, with two currently under construction. Phase 1 is from Barrett Lakes Boulevard to Busbee Parkway; Phase 3 is from Busbee Parkway to Chastain Meadows Boulevard; Phase 2 is from Chastain Road to Barrett Lakes Boulevard. Phases 1 and 3 are under construction; Phase 2 is in the right of way acquisition process and will be let by the end of the year.
Q. When did the project begin, and when will it end?
A. The Notice to Proceed was issued for Phase 1 on Jan. 5, 2010, and is scheduled to be complete April 30, 2012; NTP for Phase 2 was issued Sept. 28, 2009, and is scheduled to be completed Nov. 28, 2010; Schedule for Phase 2 is yet to be determined.
Q. Will any lanes be closed for the construction of the project? If so, which lanes and when/how long will they be closed?
A. A portion of Big Shanty Road between Busbee Parkway and Chastain Meadows Boulevard will be closed beginning Aug. 23, 2010, and reopening Nov. 15, 2010. There will be detours on I-75 as new interstate bridges are built over the new Big Shanty Road.
Q. How much does the project cost, and how is it being funded?
A. The total cost of all three phases will be approximately $26 million. Funding comes from several sources including Cobb County SPLOST, contributions by the Town Center Area Community Improvement District, ARRA (stimulus) funding, and a grant to the CID from the State Road and Tollway Authority. At this point, the total cost is an estimate as right of way is not complete on Phase 2 and bids have not been received on Phase 2.
Q. How will this project benefit the region and what is its reasoning for being constructed?
A. The project is being constructed to provide an additional, much needed east-west crossing at I-75 and I-575. Currently, there are only two such crossings in this area, Chastain Road and Barrett Parkway. The new project provides relief to congestion on these corridors.
Q. What will the new project look like (number of lanes, miles of roadway, exits, etc.)?
A. The roadway will be four lanes, median divided. The project includes sidewalks on both sides and includes a multi-use trail in the area from Chastain Road to just east of Busbee Parkway. Phase 1 is being constructed as an underpass at I-75 and will include two new interstate bridges over the new roadway. The total length is approximately 2 miles. There are no exits to the interstates; however, the project was designed to be compatible with the future GDOT HOV project, which may provide an exit to access the proposed GRTA park and ride lot in this area.
Q. It appears that on Barrett Parkway, at the bridges under Interstate 75, crews are "putting rock on top of concrete." Is that related to this project, and if so, what is the purpose?
A. In several areas in the Town Center Area Improvement District, the existing concrete walls are having a granite face put on them. This is unrelated to the Big Shanty project and is being funded by the CID as part of a landscaping project to beautify the area.