AUSTELL — The $834 million project that will add about 30 miles of reversible toll lanes along I-75 is the biggest traffic project in the county right now. The lanes are set to open in spring or summer of 2018, but county transportation chief Jim Wilgus says they may be just the beginning.

Wilgus said the Georgia Department of Transportation is planning several large-scale managed toll lane projects, including two that will be in parts of Cobb County.

All of the projects are in the very early stages, and Wilgus said there are no hard dates for start, completion or price, but he said one known as “Revive 285” may be the first to get the greenlight.

That project is set to run along the top end of I-285 between I-75 and I-85, which would place a small portion of it in Cobb County.

Another similar project would be in south Cobb: The “West Wall” project would add toll lanes along I-285 between I-75 and I-20. A sister project, the “East Wall,” would run along I-285 between I-85 and I-20.

Wilgus described the few available details of the nascent West Wall to the Cobb Chamber’s South Cobb Area Council.

“Right now, they’ve just started some work on it. They’ve just started some concept work on it,” he said.

According to the Georgia DOT, Revive 285 will include two new managed lanes.

East Wall and West Wall are described as having one lane each, and should add 25 and 18 miles respectively.

Wilgus said the new system will be “similar to what’s going on on 75” and will probably be in place in the next 10 years.

Other road projects

Beyond the managed lanes, Cobb DOT has a lot on its plate this year.

“Typically, in a year, we’re doing about $80 million in construction,” Wilgus said. “Right now, we’re running about $140 (million). So that’s why you’re seeing cones everywhere. That’s why you’re seeing projects everywhere.”

Wilgus said in addition to overseeing the county’s 2,400 miles of road and 1,500 miles of sidewalks, the DOT runs an airport, operates bus transit and manages the trail system.

Speaking to the South Cobb Area Council on Tuesday, Wilgus outlined some of the department’s ongoing projects, such as the $46.9 million project on I-285 at Atlanta Road.

“That project has still got another year,” Wilgus said. “What they’re doing is, if you’ve ever been on that interchange, it’s basically because of the left-turn traffic in the general purpose lanes. It’s basically a two-lane bridge. They’re widening it to six lanes, including dedicated left-turn lanes off the interstate, so it won’t have the congestion you see now.”

Wilgus said work on the Cobb Parkway bridge over the Chattahoochee River is substantially complete and cost $12.6 million, and a project to widen Cobb Parkway from Paces Ferry Road to Akers Mill Road is also substantially complete and cost $21 million.

He also touted improvements made to Floyd Road near Veterans Memorial Highway, calling it one of his favorite projects.

“What we’ve done at Veterans Memorial is gotten rid of a very dangerous curve, straightened it out,” he said. “What you might not notice is we’ve extended the multi-use trail down to Veterans Memorial. We’ve got one more segment left before it connects to Silver Comet.”

The project includes an 8-to-12 foot multi-use trail on the west side of the road.

Wilgus said a similar project on Six Flags Drive that is substantially complete realigned Elsner Road at its intersection with Six Flags Drive and added a 16-foot raised median from Factory Shoals Road to Riverside Parkway.

Pedestrian, air and bus

Wilgus also talked about bus transit, including the Cumberland Circulator, which is scheduled to begin service at the end of the month, and a new route, Route 25, which connects Hamilton E. Holmes station with the Cumberland area.

He said Cobb County International Airport has its eye set on big projects, including lengthening runways which will allow jets capable of non-stop flights to Japan, among other places.

On Hurt Road, crews are installing a 5-foot sidewalk on the south side from Merry Oak Road to the sidewalk at Light of Hope Presbyterian Church. It will include a 10-foot urban shoulder with 24-inch curb and gutter as well as 2-foot wide grass strip and should be finished this spring.

“Sometimes with sidewalks, you have to put in drainage, and when you put in drainage, you’ve got a bigger project,” Wilgus said. “But this is going to be a really nice project.”

Wilgus said another major priority will be the trail system.

He said the county has 32 trails connecting to major areas, and the Bob Callan Trail’s second phase is currently under construction.

That five-mile trail will connect the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area at U.S. 41 North to Terrell Mill and will have a price tag of $13.5 million, according to the Cumberland CID.

The second phase is scheduled for completion this year.

Wilgus said District 4 in south Cobb is the district with the most trails in the county, and Cobb’s trail system is something he’s committed to improving.

“People ask me if I were going to leave a legacy, what would that be,” Wilgus said. “For me, it would be establishing, creating and continuing the most robust trail system in the metro area.”


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