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April Williams / WABE

Georgia's roads are in tough shape.

You won't get much debate on that — not even from the Georgia Department of Transportation. But things have picked up in the last 18 months thanks to the passage of a state transportation funding act in 2015.

G-DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale says an increased gas tax has brought in more than $2.5 billion so far. And some of the projects that money is paying for are coming to fruition.

David Goldman / associated press file

It's December and temperatures are dropping, but state and local officials say they are ready for whatever Mother Nature and Jack Frost have in store this winter.

No snow is expected in north Georgia this weekend, but the Georgia Department of Transportation is fully stocked in case some of the white stuff – or even worse, ice – appears sometime over the next few months.

“[We have] just over 50,000 tons of salt, just over 65,000 tons of gravel, 385 snow removal equipment units, throughout the state and we are at capacity on brine,” said GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale.

MariaGodFrida, via Pixabay

Georgians may want to make sure they've got warm jackets and blankets within reach.

Frigid weather is coming to Georgia this week thanks to an Arctic-type air mass flying south from Canada.

“The next couple of days we’re looking at mid-20’s approximately for lows roughly and then the lower 40’s for highs," said Brian Lynn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

According to the NWS, those temps are 10 to 15 degrees below what is normal in Georgia for this time of year.

   

The public is invited to get information and give input on a proposed widening project on Interstate-85 in Gwinnett County.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials say the plan calls for reconstructing nearly 13 miles of I-85 near I-985, just north of Georgia Route 211, and just over 11 miles of I-85 from Georgia Route 211 to just north of U.S. 129.

Michael Dwyer / Associated Press

  

There may soon be an easy, quick way for metro Atlantans to get to Chattanooga and vice versa.

A study conducted by the Georgia Department of Transportation has listed three potential routes for a high-speed train service for Atlanta and Chattanooga.

According to the GDOT, the best-performing route would be nearly 130 miles long along Interstate-75, with eight stations.

The report says the trip would be just under 90 minutes.

Downtown Connector
Alison Guillory / WABE

Metro Atlanta's infamous traffic will likely be a little rougher than usual this weekend.

There's a lot of construction projects planned between now and Monday morning, so drivers can expect a number of ramp and lane closures over the next 48 hours.

On Interstate-75, three southbound lanes will be shut down between Marietta Parkway and Delk Road from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

On Interstate-20, two eastbound lanes between Thornton Road and Fulton Industrial Boulevard will close Friday night at 7 p.m. and not reopen until Monday at 5 a.m.

GDOT announced it won't put out $123 million worth of projects because it has not received federal funding for them yet.
April Williams / WABE

  

Commuters in Cobb County will have to be extra patient Friday. 

Traffic pacing will be in effect on parts of Interstate-75 this afternoon.

It's all part of the Georgia Department of Transportation's $834 million managed lanes project, which will add nearly 30 miles of toll lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties.

The lanes will head into metro Atlanta during morning rush and they'll be reversed northbound in the afternoon and evening.

The new 30-mile expressway under construction in Cobb County will cost $800 million.

And commuters will be chipping in.    

People who drive on the Northwest Corridor can expect to pay a flat fee of 50 cents to use the Northwest Corridor.

That's the 30-mile reversible toll expressway on I-75 and I-575.

State officials say the cost could rise to 35 cents per mile during heavy traffic times.

Todd Stone / Associated Press

Tuesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Jim Burress / WABE

This week, the Georgia Department of Transportation is beginning to add lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.

It's the latest in an effort to add toll lanes to the busiest interstates in metro Atlanta.

GDOT is adding 10 more miles of toll lanes northbound and southbound between Old Peachtree and Hamilton Mill roads on Interstate 85. It would be an extension of the 16 miles of toll lanes on I-85 that stretch from Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County up to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County.

Cumberland Community Improvement District Board chairman Tad Leithead said a ramp at the first entry point to reversible tolls on I-75 is at Aker Mills, but there is no direct access. A ramp would address major traffic and safety concerns for the area.
GDOT

A highway ramp at Akers Mill Road in Cobb County, Georgia, may cost more than five times the original estimate.

A ramp near the new Atlanta Braves stadium would provide direct access to reversible toll lanes being built along Interstate 75. The toll lanes would go southbound in the mornings and northbound in the afternoon.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Advocates for pedestrian safety are working with the Georgia Department of Transportation on a statewide action plan, and they're asking people to share their walking habits in an online survey.

The Atlanta nonprofit group PEDS will use the survey results, along with data on crashes, injuries and fatalities to learn where the biggest problems are and what changes people would like in their areas, said PEDS pedestrian safety program manager Kemberli Sargent.    

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

State officials have given Atlanta more time to submit plans to address the city's streetcar problems.

The Georgia Department of Transportation on Wednesday gave Atlanta an extra two weeks to correct the streetcar problems and with the threat of shutting it down, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In a letter, the GDOT gave the city and MARTA until June 28 to comply with its request regarding a slew of problems uncovered in recent audits.

Atlanta Streetcar near Centennial Park April 2015
Alison Guillory / WABE

The city of Atlanta submitted a partial corrective action plan (CAP) for the Atlanta Streetcar Tuesday, but asked for a four-week extension to complete the plan.

The Georgia Department of Transportation threatened to shut down the streetcar if it didn't get the plan Tuesday.

Atlanta traffic
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia will have one of its heaviest construction seasons this summer, according to state transportation officials.

“This summer there will be over 470 construction projects and maintenance projects going on statewide,” said Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry.

semi trucks
David Tulis / Associated Press

Georgia's Department of Transportation is considering spending $2 billion to build dedicated lanes for trucks to travel 40 miles between the Atlanta area and Macon.

Darrin Roth of the American Trucking Association said the truck-only highway, with separated lanes from general traffic, would be the first project of its kind in the country. 

The two lanes would be set off by a barrier on Interstate 75 between McDonough in Henry County and Macon.

Roth said there's a real need for dedicated travel lanes for trucks.

Alison Guillory / WABE

On the shoulder lanes of the Georgia interstates, it’s hard to miss the bright yellow-and-orange trucks patrolling the highways and helping stranded motorists.

They’re part of the Georgia Department of Transportation's Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) unit.

But HERO assistant manager Andre Todd said many people confuse them for State Farm insurance trucks.

“They see State Farm, they say, ‘Well, you know what, I don’t have State Farm insurance, but I sure do appreciate it.’ We’re not State Farm, we’re GDOT,” Todd said.  

Construction near Cumberland Boulevard
Al Such / WABE

A proposed law that would streamline road construction in Georgia is running into resistance from archaeologists.

They say it would threaten unknown grave sites, historical objects and ancient artifacts that have yet to be unearthed. It also could take away one of the key ways archaeologists do their work: As a part of the environmental review that's currently required in the state.

Credit: Indiana Public Media / http://bit.ly/16wKUba

  

Parts of Interstate-75, around Windy Hill and Delk Roads, will be closed Friday night through early Saturday morning.

Construction crews will be working on the state's reversible toll lane project.

When it is complete, there will be about 30 miles of reversible lanes on I-75 and I-575 through Cobb and Cherokee Counties.

The toll lanes will head southbound into Atlanta during morning drive and northbound during evening rush hour.

State officials say these toll lanes will help ease congestion in two ways.

Magic Mike's Auto Shop
Al Such / WABE

The city of Sandy Springs said it's putting on hold a plan to build two roundabouts and a park where an auto repair shop, Magic Mike's Automotive on Mount Vernon Highway, is located. 

The downtown skyline is reflected in an Atlanta Streetcar during a ceremony celebrating its inaugural trip.
David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Department of Transportation is the latest agency to criticize the operation of the Atlanta Streetcar, noting numerous deficiencies of the $98 million system.

Among them: Inadequate training of many workers, maintenance deficiencies and improper documentation of accidents, according to the draft report released this month.

The state transportation agency reviewed the streetcar's safety and security practices in late October 2015, about two months after city officials executed an emergency contract to turn over streetcar management to a private firm.

If Congress doesn't reach an agreement on the federal Highway Trust Fund, Georgia could have to reduce the number of highway projects it moves forward with starting in September.
Faith Williams / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal, surrounded by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and state transportation leaders, unveiled a $10 billion list of projects that the Georgia Department of Transportation said doubles funding for bridges, quadruples funding for roadway resurfacing, and doubles funding for routine maintenance.

“We are about to embark, on a view, of a 10 year journey into Georgia’s future,” Deal said.

The new funding was sparked by a bill passed last year that funnels new revenue to GDOT because of a $5 dollar per-night hotel fee and changes to gas taxes.

Anne G / flickr.com

The Georgia Department of Transportation says it is grateful to finally have a consistent source of funding it can count on. The tax money, approved by legislators last year with the passage of House Bill 170, is slated to pay for road maintenance projects that have been put on hold for years. 

With $1 billion a year in new transportation funding projected in the next few years, some state lawmakers are now looking to future transportation needs.

Atlanta traffic
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Traffic deaths are on the rise for the first time in nine years, according the Georgia Department of Transportation. 

As of Monday morning, 1,345 people died on the state's roads and highways, up 16 percent from this time last year, GDOT said. Almost half of the fatalities were from single-vehicle crashes, which can partially be attributed to distracted driving, said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. 

Georgia Department of Transportation

The Georgia Department of Transportation is one step closer to revamping one of metro Atlanta's most dangerous interchanges.

GDOT has chosen North Perimeter Contractors to redesign and reconstruct the interchange at Interstate 285 and Georgia State Route 400.

Over the next few months negotiations will take place, but GDOT officials expect work will start around April.

The project calls for possible adjustments to exits, a walking-biking trail and 10 miles of what are known as collector distributor lanes.

HERO driver Jimmy Holmes says these new trucks will be harder to navigate through traffic jams, but they can store more equipment for emergencies.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Starting Tuesday, Georgia is replacing 10 HERO, or Highway Emergency Response Operator, trucks that help stranded motorists on interstate highways with bigger models that can handle more traffic emergencies in the Atlanta area. 

HERO's larger, bright yellow trucks will mostly be used for overnight and long-distance trips. 

Tom Moreland Interchange, a.k.a. Spaghetti Junction, intersection of Interstate 85 and Interstate 285, just northeast of Atlanta, Georgia in Dekalb County.
United States Geological Survey

The Tom Moreland Interchange at the intersection of Interstate 285 and Interstate 85, also known as Spaghetti Junction, was No. 1 in the nation last year for truck traffic congestion.

That's according to the American Transportation Research Institute, which analyzes truck GPS data.

In 2014, with a peak average speed of 28 mph, it ranked first. The year before, the five-level stack interchange ranked third in the country. 

David Tulis / Associated Press

Georgia transportation officials say they've made strategic investments to plan for winter weather.

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said in a release Monday that the agency has learned lessons from the impact of winter weather in recent years and invested in additional technology and resources to plan for it this year.

Officials say the department has invested in additional brine making and snow removal equipment, more space to store salt that's needed to melt ice from slick roads and more.

WABE

Commuters willing to try a new way of getting to work could earn some extra cash.

Georgia Commute Options is offering $5 a day -- up to $150 total -- to switch to an alternative form of transportation such as carpooling, public transit or even biking.

Peachtree Road
Bearden / flickr.com/beardenb

State transportation officials will hold a community meeting on Thursday about a proposed redesign for Peachtree Road in Buckhead. 

The full plan would cover the area between Interstate-85 and the Lenox area. This phase of the proposal encompasses the stretch of Peachtree between Pharr and Deering Roads. The proposal calls for repaving Peachtree, and merging the road's two middle lanes to create one big turn lane in the process.

Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale says going from six lanes to five should improve traffic and safety.

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