SR 400 express lanes project in Georgia in limbo indefinitely
August 23, 2021
An express lanes toll project in Georgia is on hold indefinitely after coming across problems during the public-private partnership procurement process.
On Aug. 19, the Georgia Transportation Board took the state’s P3 Steering Committee’s recommendation to reject a proposal for the state Route 400 express lanes project. Additionally, the board went with the committee’s determination that the entire procurement process for the project be cancelled.
However, this does not mean the SR 400 express lanes project itself is cancelled. Meg Pirkle, Georgia Department of Transportation’s chief engineer, said that GDOT will continue to explore all options to advance the toll project.
The procurement process began in May and ended in August. MW 400 Partners presented the winning bid and made it through several committees and subcommittees. That private group consists of Meridiam, Walsh Investors as the equity member; Archer Western, C.W. Matthews as the lead construction contractor; and Arcadis US as the lead engineering firm.
Earlier this month, the P3 Steering Committee found that MW 400 Partners’ price proposal significantly exceeds the allotted funding for the project. Consequently, the committee recommended to the transportation board to reject the proposal and to cancel all procurements. Accordingly, the board did just that on Aug. 19. Details about the price proposal are proprietary information and confidential.
The SR 400 express lanes project creates two new express lanes in each direction from the North Springs MARTA Station to McGinnis Ferry Road. Also, one new express lane in each direction will go from McGinnis Ferry Road to just north of McFarland Parkway. GDOT estimates that a 35-year P3 contract will cost about $85 million a year. New express lanes will stretch about 16 miles total.
Despite the setback, GDOT still plans to follow through with the SR 400 express lanes project.
The department is seeking alternative ways to move forward. As of publication, GDOT does not know how the procurement process cancellation will affect the project schedule. The target date to open the express lanes was 2027.
This marks the second time the SR400 express lanes project has been moved back. Initially, construction was to begin this year. Along with several others, the project’s timeline was revised in October 2019 to the current schedule.
The SR 400 express lanes are part of GDOT’s Major Mobility Investment Program. That project also includes truck-only lanes on Interstate 75. Those lanes will go northbound along I-75 from the I-75/I-475 interchange in Monroe County ending near the SR 20 interchange in Henry County. In 2019, the express lanes timeline was delayed while GDOT expedited the truck lanes. GDOT expects the truck lanes to open by the end of 2027. The complete I-285 express lanes are on schedule to open in 2032.
For more details about the project, click here. LL