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Guest donaltopablo

Ga. 316 expected to be first fast-tracked tollroad

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Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl said he expects to receive a proposal this month to turn Ga. 316 into a toll road.

The proposal would be the first to take advantage of a new law allowing the state Department of Transportation to enter into road and transit construction deals with private contractors without following the state's strict competitive bidding requirements. The law allows contractors to front the cost of a project, recouping expenses and earning a profit through tolls or fares.

Idaho-based Washington Group International and Georgia-based C.W. Matthews are expected to partner on a tollway proposal for the highway between Lawrenceville and Athens. The companies lobbied heavily for the law passed early in 2003.

Ga. 316 has been slated for improvements for years, but so far state officials have been unable to find the millions of dollars needed for a comprehensive project. State plans for the heavily traveled road include intersection improvements at several crossings, such as at Collins Hill Road and at Ga. 20.

A group of landowners and business people has pushed an $850 million plan to transform a 40-mile stretch of the four-lane intercity highway into a limited access tollway similar to Ga. 400.

"There aren't too many projects around the state that can be tolled," Linnenkohl said. "I think Ga. 316 is a good candidate for that. It can be a revenue generator."

Once the state receives a proposal, the department will advertise it for 30 days, then give other contractors 90 days to submit competing proposals. Any deal would have to be approved by the state Transportation Board, reviewed by state legislators and posted for public comment.

Within weeks of the law's passage early last year, Washington Group and C.W. Matthews helped host a fund-raiser for the bill's sponsor, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tommie Williams (R-Lyons). Williams said the fund-raiser was in no way payback for his support.

He said the law was necessary to speed up needed congestion relief projects at a time when money is in short supply.

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Good! About damn time this gets done. 316 has got to be the most dangerous road in the state. I drove it a few times and can see exactly why it gets all the wrecks it does. It's hilly, as wide a a rural interstate, but with traffic lights set up. People go 80 on that road when the safe speeding limit should be 60 or 65.

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I drive GA 316 regularly, and I have mixed feelings about it. It's a fun drive late at night when few others are on the road. However, shame on the Georgia DOT for going cheap and building this road with traffic signals at at-grade crossings. The continual stopping and re-accelerating at each signal is a waste of gas, and very hard on a car's brakes. It also disrupts efficient traffic flow, both on GA 316 and the roads that interesct it. Making GA 316 a controlled-access highway will go a long way in helping motorists save gas, reduce brake wear, and promote efficient traffic flow. Another thing that aggravates me is how hyper-sensitive the signal sensors are when it comes to cars approaching on intersecting roads. The moment one car on a side road pulls up to the signal, the light immediately goes to yellow and then red for anyone on the main thoroughfare. Why can't the car on the secondary road wait an extra 30 seconds?

Below is my EXIT NUMBER idea for GA 316...

Exit 0 - Boggs Road

Exit 2 - Sugarloaf Parkway

(Discover Mills)

Exit 4 - Riverside Parkway

Exit 5 - GA 120: Lawrenceville/Duluth

Exit 6 - Collins Hill Road***

Exit 7 - GA 20/GA 124: Lawrenceville/Buford***

(Mall of Georgia/Lake Lanier)

*** - Access roads between Exits 6 and 7 will provide westbound access at Collins Hill Road and eastbound access at GA 20/GA 124.

Exit 9 - Cedars Road

Exit 10 - U.S.29 West: Lawrenceville/Dacula

Exit 12 - Harbins Road/Dacula

Exit 15 - Kilcrease Road

Exit 17 - Patrick Mill Road

Exit 19 - Carl-Bethlehem Road

Exit 20 - GA 81: Loganville/Winder

(Fort Yargo State Park)

Exit 22 - GA 11: Monroe/Winder

Exit 26 - GA 53: Watkinsville/Winder

Exit 29 - GA 211 North: Statham/Winder

Exit 30 - Craft Road/Statham

(The Georgia Club)

Exit 33 - McNutt Creek Road/Bogart

Exit 35 - U.S. 78 West/U.S. Business 78 East: Monroe/Athens

(Bogart/Georgia Square Mall)

Exit 36 - Jimmy Daniel Road

Exit 37 - Oconee Connector/Watkinsville

Exit 38A - U.S. 29 North/U.S. 78 East/GA Loop 10 Outer/To U.S. 129/To U.S. 441/To GA 15: University of Georgia


Exit 38B - GA Loop 10 Inner: Bogart

(STRAIGHT - Epps Bridge Parkway/Athens)

A couple other things I'd do: Widen GA 316 to four lanes in each direction between I-85 and Lawrenceville Highway, and to three lanes in each direction between Lawrenceville Highway and GA 11, as well as between the U.S. 78 merge and the Athens Perimeter.

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That's a well thought out list. Guess my business will be off of Exit 7 :)

LOL, that sounds as if is a battleroyal out on that road. Stop lights on an interstate?

It's only an interstate (really limited access highway) for the first 5 exists, then it becomes a standard 4 lane divided highway. Although it was clearly built with the intention of eventually becoming entirely a limited access highway, with interstate like seperation between the directions of traffic and large spacing between businesses and the road front.

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