“It is getting close and we are working with the contractor right now to finalize the timetable,” he said last week. “We may make the March 31 date but with the bad weather we have had the last few days, it could be pushed back a few days. Obviously, we want to make sure everything is safe and ready for traffic before it’s opened.”
McKinnon said an estimated 16,100 vehicles will use the ramps daily, and about 19,700 daily vehicles are projected to use the ramps by 2035. The road project, which began construction in July 2011 and cost about $21.4 million, will complete the connectivity of 400 and 85 so motorists will no longer have to get off one highway and travel surface streets in Buckhead to get on the other highway. The ramps will be operational two decades after 400’s $82.1 million extension south from I-285 to 85 opened in August 1993.
“It’s coming full circle for [the Buckhead Coalition], because about 24 years ago … one of our first major undertakings was lobbying for Ga. 400 [to come] through Buckhead to connect to Interstate 85 from Interstate 285,” said Sam Massell, the coalition’s president. “That was done, but the part that was missing was this ramp connecting 400 and 85 so that [motorists] don’t have to get off and get back on.”
The ramp project was originally scheduled for completion Dec. 31, but the opening date has been delayed multiple times due to issues like problematic weather and changes with lane closures, McKinnon said.
“Of course it is a high-speed corridor, so we want to be sure that everything is completely finished and completely safe and ready to go before we put traffic on it,” he said in late January.
Massell said the coalition is excited the highway connectivity project is finally coming to fruition.
“The Buckhead Coalition was very pleased and proud to be involved in the negotiations to build the ramps, because it was a way to alleviate traffic on Sidney Marcus [Boulevard] and Buford Highway and Piedmont Road and some other surface streets in that general area,” he said. In addition to easing congestion on the surface streets, Massell said the ramps will improve the flow of traffic on 400 and 85, thereby decreasing auto accidents and air pollution.
The ramps are tentatively set to open Monday but the timetable is not finalized.