GDOT eyes Cumberland Blvd. for I-285 express lane access

·2 min read

Sep. 8—The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is eyeing a Cumberland Boulevard connection for the proposed network of express lanes along I-285.

The access point just west of Cumberland Mall would tie in with up to 40 miles of planned express lanes across the top half of the perimeter, which could include a mass transit component as well.

Renderings released by GDOT show access ramps connecting with Cumberland Boulevard from both the north and south directions of travel, offering commuters an expedited means of traveling the interstate — for a small fee.

Under the proposed funding model, GDOT will enter into a 50-year contract with the private investor, whose investment would be repaid by collecting all revenues from the express lane's toll system. The private partner would be responsible for setting the toll rates, within State Road and Tollway Authority guidelines.

While GDOT moves ahead with the express lane project — which, the department says, will try and replicate the purported success of the I-75 express lanes — a coalition of local governments (including Cobb County) is exploring a bus rapid transit (BRT) angle for the express lanes.

That initiative, if successful, would add bus stops along the corridor between Cumberland and Tucker. Cobb and other governments and authorities are currently undertaking a $16 million joint study to flesh out the project's details.

The most likely access point in Cobb would be at the same Cumberland Boulevard exit. The county currently operates a transfer center across from Cumberland Mall, but it offers little more than a series of bus shelters.

County officials are in the process of another, separate study to build out a new and improved transfer center possibly located on the mall property. Located just steps from I-285, the site would provide easy ingress and egress to the express lanes.

Commuters, according to transit officials, could one day travel via bus from Cumberland Mall to Northlake Mall in DeKalb County in 40 minutes' time.

Public hearings are scheduled to begin next year, per GDOT's website, with construction of the northwest portion of the express lanes not expected until at least 2029.