Advanced Search

10-23-05 GA DOT - Bids on GA 316 & I–85 Interchange Improvements ($00-150 Million Project)

Gwinnett Daily Post 10-22-05:  Doss, the DOT board chairman, said the road work will significantly improve the intersection that handles 263,000 vehicles daily.   “It will offer not only a lot of congestion relief in that area, but it will also offer considerable safety enhancements,” Doss said…… motorists entering I-85 from Ga. 316 will no longer be dumped into the faster left-hand lanes.  Instead they’ll be able to merge into the slower lanes on the right side of the interstate.

……… parallel lanes that will go beside the expressway will let drivers hop between Pleasant Hill Road and Ga. 316 without merging onto the interstate.



October 22, 2005


Bids on GA 316 & I–85 Interchange Improvements ($00-150 Million Project)


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.


The Gwinnett Daily Post and Gainesville Times reported today that the lowest bid on this project is $47 Million.   Many factors will be considered before the project is let and the articles say the low bidder may not be awarded the contract.   Comments in the articles indicate the cost is not a “deal breaker”


It is good to see GA DOT making this kind of commitment for this critical link for GA 316.  This is the single worst bottleneck for persons on the east end to reach Atlanta.  It needs upgrading. 


GA 20 (Mall of Georgia) interchange also needs upgrading.  It will also take big money.  However, without it, the road’s functionality is going to be less and less viable as a route to Atlanta.


9-22-05 Georgia DOT Plans for GA 316 – I-85 Interchange is Welcome News



10-22-05 GA DOT Bids on GA 316 – I – 85 Interchange Higher Than Expected


The Gwinnett Daily Post



October 22, 2005


I-85/316 price steeper than expected

By Bryan Brooks

LAWRENCEVILLE — The price tag is much higher than expected for a gigantic project that will overhaul the Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 316 interchange.

The state Department of Transportation estimated the project would cost about $00 million, but when bids were opened Friday afternoon, the lowest one was almost 50 percent higher than that.

An increase in the cost of building materials is to blame for the price spike, said DOT spokesman David Spear.  Spear also said it is too early to know if the project, which includes new bridges and carpool lanes, will be rebid.  “At this juncture there is no reason to anticipate that will happen,” Spear said.

What is known, though, is that at $47 million, the lowest bid makes the project the most expensive DOT has ever undertaken.  “That is considerably more than the project estimate,” DOT Board Chairman David Doss said Friday afternoon when told of the lowest bid.

The bid was from a joint venture involving C.W. Matthews Inc. and APAC Southeast. Two other companies also submitted bids, including Snellville-based E.R. Snell.

Spear said DOT had recently begun to suspect the interchange would blow through earlier cost estimates.

“It is significantly higher than our initial estimates, but I think recently we had come to expect it was probably going to be in this ballpark,” Spear said.

Spear and others said the higher-than-expected bids stem from an increase in the cost of petroleum-based products that are used in the construction process.  DOT will review the bids over the next 90 days and determine which company will get the project, or whether to seek new proposals. ……

“We will just go through the evaluation process and hopefully we’ll be able to award a bid to one of the bidders,” Spear said.

The lowest bidder won’t necessarily get the contract. Other factors are also considered when deciding which company to pick, Spear said.

If one of the companies is selected, some work on the four-year project will begin in late winter. Heavy construction would not commence until spring, though.

Doss, the DOT board chairman, said the road work will significantly improve the intersection that handles 263,000 vehicles daily.   “It will offer not only a lot of congestion relief in that area, but it will also offer considerable safety enhancements,” Doss said.

When finished, motorists entering I-85 from Ga. 316 will no longer be dumped into the faster left-hand lanes. Instead they’ll be able to merge into the slower lanes on the right side of the interstate.

Also, parallel lanes that will go beside the expressway will let drivers hop between Pleasant Hill Road and Ga. 316 without merging onto the interstate.

The two new “fly-over bridges” and other rebuilt spans will give the interchange a much different look, Doss said.  “I think it’s going to be another Spaghetti Junction,” he said, referring to the web of overpasses that forms the I-285/I-85 interchange.

10-23-05 GA 316-I – 85 Remake Expensive


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution



October 23, 2005


Safety drives remake of I-85/Ga. 316 interchange
Giant project would add 31 miles of lanes


By Ariel Hart


 GA 316 Traffic Merging into I-85

Ga. 316 and I-85 is just an interchange. But every day, on average, 263,000 drivers — more people than live in Louisville, Ky. — pass through it.

And it's a colossal mess that has put hundreds of motorists in ambulances over the past several years.

So the state Department of Transportation is planning a replacement of a fitting size. The construction is expected to take more than three years — 40 months, to be precise — before drivers have a much safer, much bigger interchange on which to hurtle from highway to highway.

The plans alone will break your back: 1,500 pages of them, each one the size of a desktop. The cost — the lowest bid came in Friday at $47 million — will be one of the largest bills in the history of Georgia's roads.

"It's going to be a spectacular project," said DOT bridge engineer Paul Liles.

Indeed. For this one interchange, an eight-mile stretch of Gwinnett County highway will fall under the knife. Thirty-one miles of new lanes will come into existence, including HOV lanes, collector-distributor lanes and lanes that fly up over the interstate, 70 feet in the sky.

Those high-flying lanes will top two new bridges over the interstate that planners hope will stanch the numbing flow of crashes at the site. Just one beam, the longest one in the longest bridge, will be 161 feet long and weigh 70 tons, according to Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the DOT.

That bridge will lift drivers out of the perilous southbound Ga. 316 merge onto I-85, curve up over I-85 and bend southbound, letting them down on the other side after half a mile aloft. The other flyover bridge is shorter — just a fifth of a mile — but to Liles, that's the exciting one, because of its "straddle bent" design. It will have columns on each side of the interstate supporting a massive cap that straddles the road, which in turn supports the bridge.

The proposed interchange has 11other new or rebuiltbridges over creeks and roads, DOT design engineers said. Some, like the flyover, will feed into the collector-distributor system, lanes attached to the side of the highway but barricaded from it, so entering traffic can sort itself out before merging in.

The fences and barricades run for mile upon mile. The steel beams in the bridges would run more than seven miles laid end to end, Pope said.

Even so, it isn't the biggest project in the state, or the most complex.

Spaghetti Junction's highest bridge rises 100 feet in the air, Liles said, and sports layer upon layer of flyover bridges. I-20, I-75 and I-85 meet downtown in a web of 16 bridges, he said. And if the intersection of Ga. 400 and I-285 is redone, as planners expect it to be, it will dwarf any other DOT project in history.

But the Ga. 316 project is no less impressive.

DOT engineers are proud of how little land — 30.7 acres — they had to buy to expand Ga. 316/I-85, though they did take bites out of a miniature golf course and a motel, and spent $1.3 million on right of way……..

On game day, "not only is there traffic, but there's traffic with a purpose," he said, "a lot of amped-up football fans trying to get there as fast as they can."

The thousands of drivers who make that interchange their routine form "a whole little community," he added, each of them knowing the lay of the land and the rules of the game. And he thinks the rules have got to change.

Local and state leaders have agreed on that for well over a decade. Gwinnett County got the ball rolling in 1996, hiring the private company Moreland Altobelli to design the interchange. It also had the company recommend where to get the land for it, and the state spent years buying up those parcels, starting in 1998 and ending this year. …..

The project ran into roadblocks in the late 1990s when the federal government cut off funds for many road projects because Atlanta ran afoul of the Clean Air Act, but local officials give credit to federal highway officials for suggesting the expensive collector-distributor system.

While most big road projects in the state are driven by a simple need for capacity to handle more traffic, the safety issues that that volume has created at Ga. 316 and I-85 are overwhelming.

"That's what the whole thing is, to improve the safety," said Jack McElfish, chief of Gwinnett County's fire and emergency services department……... Last year, according to the DOT, on I-85 northbound and southbound from the interchange to Pleasant Hill Road, vehicles and lives were mangled by 570 crashes. Those who just got stuck in the traffic jams were lucky.

"It's a very dangerous interchange," said Robert Brooks, captain at the fire station that responds to incidents there. He won't travel it with his own family. At the southbound merge, he said, "It's just terrible. The southbound traffic's coming down way over the speed limit. ……

So what were the original designers thinking? They were not careless, today's engineers say. When a leg of Ga. 316 opened off I-85 in 1962, they just couldn't foresee the development to come.

"Part of it was, the engineering world had to come to grips with what the volumes would be, what the movements would be, what the transfers from one road to another would be," said Wayne Shackelford, a former state transportation commissioner who started working as executive assistant to the Gwinnett County Commission in 1973.

"Some plans that would work if there were not many cars on the road don't work at all with these volumes," said Mike Meyer, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Georgia Tech. "Now we're going back and retroactively fixing designs. It's all over the country. It's not just Georgia."


The Gainesville Times



October 22, 2005


Interstate work will cost more



Rebuilding the Interstate 85-Ga. 316 merger will cost the state more than $47 million.


That price, revealed in bids opened Friday, exceeds an earlier Department of Transportation estimate of about $00 million. But it's within range of more recent projections adjusted to cover the rising price of fuel and petroleum-based products such as asphalt, DOT spokesman David Spear said.


"I think that's within the ballpark of what we were expecting," Spear said.

In a joint venture, C.W. Matthews Contracting of Marietta and APAC Southeast of Smyrna submitted the lowest of three bids, at $47.4 million. A bid by Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors was about $6,000 more.


Either likely will be the DOT's largest single contract ever.


Officials will take up to 90 days to review the bids. The contractor will have 40 months to remake the congested juncture, working mostly on weeknights and weekends.


The project includes widening or lengthening 11 bridges and building two new ones to carry Ga. 316's Atlanta-bound traffic over I-85 to merge on the right or hook directly into Pleasant Hill Road. Construction isn't expected to begin until spring. ………..