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I-285 toll lane project threatens to impact hundreds of properties

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GDOT officials say the interstate overhaul could reduce traffic delays by thousands of hours daily

A map of the proposed project.
GDOT officials say the I-285 Top End Express Lanes project could reduce traffic delays by thousands of hours each day.
Georgia Department of Transportation

Hundreds of properties along the north side of Atlanta’s Interstate 285 Perimeter could be at risk of being impacted by a potential $5 billion toll lane project.

Last week, Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst and Councilmember Linley Jones told constituents that more than 300 properties could be affected by construction easements and possible land grabs as part of the massive Georgia Department of Transportation plan, according to Reporter Newspapers.

The potential impact would be so substantial, in fact, that city leaders brought an eminent domain attorney to a community meeting to help educate people about their rights in the event that GDOT officials knock at their doors.

The properties that could feel the weight of this undertaking are part of the state’s $11 billion “Major Mobility Investment Program,” which aims to curb traffic congestion. They’re found along the Perimeter between Henderson Road, in Tucker, and Paces Ferry Road, in Vinings, meaning land in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and Doraville could be affected, too.

GDOT’s I-285 Top End Express Lanes project, which is slated to begin construction in 2023, would purportedly help in “reducing 6,000-plus hours of delay each day on the top end of I-285,” according to the state agency.

The project would create two new barrier-separated express lanes running in both directions along the northern arc of the Perimeter.

There’s nothing city leaders can do to stop the project, and GDOT officials have been less than forthcoming with details about its possible impact, according to Reporter Newspapers, which has submitted open records requests to no avail.

Also part of the Major Mobility Investment Program is the Ga. Highway 400 express lanes project. That component would bring new express lanes along the high-traffic thoroughfare between the North Springs MARTA Station and McFarland Parkway.

Both projects are currently in the planning and environmental impact assessment phase, meaning GDOT officials are mapping out where sound barriers and rights of way would be needed.