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Interchange Reconstruction Should Aid Flow of Traffic

Thu August 28, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Matthew Willett

Construction has been under way for more than a year at the I-285 and Memorial Drive interchange in DeKalb County, and though shifted lanes are frustrating drivers, the two new bridges and wider lanes will likely bear fruit in the future in terms of better traffic flow.

“It’s really a great project because it’s such a heavily travelled interchange, and our goal for this project is to increase the operational capacity of the interchange. That’s the bottom line,” Georgia Department of Transportation Communications Director Mark McKinnon said. “The bottom line is that we wanted to improve the flow on Memorial Drive, which is state Route 10, and allow greater access to state Route 10 to and from the I-285 mainline. There’s a lot of business in that area. Atlanta is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, and that area is growing. It’s an important corridor and we want to keep it flowing well.”

Don Mayo, C.W. Matthews’ vice president of asphalt paving, said the project, though straightforward, is a long one.

The Marietta, Ga.-based C.W. Matthews is the general contractor on the project.

“We’re widening Memorial Drive and extending the on and off ramps to I-285,” Mayo said. “There’s a lot of traffic. We just have to work around it and channel it around us so we can work.”

In the end, just less than a mile of resurfacing will have been done. The project includes two bridges and their approaches and the relocation of George Luther Drive, in addition to widening the lanes.

“It also includes the relocation of George Luther Drive because the roadway came in right next to the interchange,” McKinnon said. “As a safety measure we felt it would be better to realign that roadway so that it came into state Route 10. Now it’ll come into that roadway a little further from the interchange.”

Work is expected to reach completion by winter 2009. Mayo said the $54.8 million project is on schedule despite normal delays due to utility relocation.

“AT&T had to switch the communication lines from the old bridge bed to the first half of the new bridge bed, and that took 180 days,” he said.

What hasn’t gotten the crews off schedule, he added, is traffic in one of Atlanta’s busiest areas.

“There’s a lot of traffic,” Mayo said. “We just have to work around it and channel it around us so we can work. It makes safety an everyday thing; we’re just trying to go home alive and well.”

One solution has been to stage shifts at night to avoid the high-traffic times.

“We just work sometimes at night, and when we do we have to try to stage all the work. We’ll set the barrier wall during the day so we can work at night,” he said.

Mayo said Matthews is using Caterpillar equipment on the site.

“We’re using mostly Cat excavators, bulldozers, rollers and motorgraders,” he said. “The excavators are 330s and the dozers are D6s. We’ve had about 12 motorgraders on site there and as many as four dozers at a time.”

Mayo said the project is a dirt-out job, and that Matthews will remove approximately 75,000 cu. yd. (57,000 cu m) of dirt.

He guessed that Matthews will put down 16,000 to 18,000 tons (14,500 to 16,300 t) of asphalt. Matthews is subcontracting out the stabilized earth retaining walls to M.C. Precast of Atlanta.

McKinnon praised Matthews for its efforts to keep the traffic moving at the interchange.

“We are expecting some delays, and we’ve had some delays, but the delays have really been minimal. Matthews has done a great job at implementing traffic control and making it as simple as possible to get through there in rush hour or in lunch hour. There are a lot of businesses there and considering the magnitude of the project, the delays have really been minimal.” CEG

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