Posted in Truck Accidents on March 13, 2019
Atlanta is a hub for shipping and transport, with thousands of commercial trucks passing through every day. Interstate 75 sees a heavy amount of semi-truck traffic on any given day, as trucks transport millions of tons of cargo across the state. It is almost impossible for motor vehicle drivers to escape seeing a large truck while driving in Atlanta.
Interactions between trucks and other motorists can lead to deadly accidents. In 2015 (the most recent year data is available), 182 accident fatalities involved large trucks in Georgia. Now, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is proposing a way to address the constantly increasing traffic from commercial trucks: a truck-only interstate in Fulton County in the attempt to reduce the frequency of truck accidents in Atlanta.
So what are the positives that can come from a truck exclusive freeway in Atlanta?
Here are some of the top highlights:
One of the main advantages the GDOT is touting in support of a truck-only interstate is less traffic congestion moving through Atlanta. Visitors and residents alike dread driving through Atlanta, where the traffic ranks among the worst in the world. The GDOT’s solution to this significant problem is to designate a lane for commercial vehicles only. A barrier would separate the lanes along I-74, for about a 40-mile stretch from metro Atlanta to Macon. The GDOT predicts the “I-75 Commercial Vehicle Lanes” project will reduce traffic delays in Atlanta by 40%.
In 2018, drivers spent an average of 108 hours in traffic congestion in Atlanta. Estimates show the cost of congestion per driver to be around $1,505. Atlanta’s traffic score was worse in 2016, coming in at number eight in the world for congestion. Funneling all commercial trucks to a truck-only highway running through Atlanta would free up significant space on I-75 – especially during rush hour. Taking away large trucks leaves more room for passenger vehicles, and less waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. A truck-only highway may significantly cut down commute times for Atlanta drivers.
The commercial-only highway in Atlanta would be the first of its kind in the U.S. Although other states, such as California, have commercial-vehicle only lanes, the project in Atlanta is its own highway, not just a lane. It will be a separate roadway for commercial vehicles only. The project will cost an estimated $1.8 billion, with the state government picking up 20% of the bill. The federal government will cover the other 80%. While this will mean increases for taxpayers, the GDOT assures residents the interstate will ultimately decrease the costs of highway maintenance.
More freight moving through its own roadway in Atlanta means less freight on general purpose lanes. This equals less wear-and-tear on standard lanes, and reduces highway maintenance costs. Without heavier commercial trucks operating on standard lanes, the asphalt will not deteriorate as quickly. Drivers can enjoy fewer roadway defects such as potholes, less restorative construction, and lower long-term maintenance costs.
Perhaps the most important reason for the I-75 project is to improve the safety of Atlanta’s passenger vehicle drivers. Driving near and around so many large trucks puts other drivers at high risk of fatal accidents. A collision with a commercial truck could easily cause life-threatening injuries to drivers and passengers in the smaller vehicle. Separating the truck-only highway with a safe barrier can prevent large trucks from having the opportunity to collide with smaller vehicles. This could prevent the hundreds of accidents, injuries, and deaths that occur in Atlanta trucking accidents each year.
The truck-only interstate project in Atlanta could benefit commercial truckers, trucking companies, standard vehicle drivers, and the government. It could reduce congestion, improve safety, and provide economic benefits all around. The project is currently in the development phase, with a schedule for completion that is subject to change. The GDOT predicts the project to start by 2025, and completion by 2029.