Georgia DOT readies the road to the gold

David Banasiak / December 28, 2000

Olympic athletes strive and train hard for the ultimate prize-Olympic gold.
And, while the gold is being won and records broken, the spectators, who
drive to the Olympic venues scattered throughout the city, will probably
take for granted the award winning efforts of the Georgia DOT (GDOT), which
helped make their drive possible.

GDOT is conducting a 330 lane-mile highway rehabilitation project on I&shyp;75
and I&shyp;85 which run together through the Atlanta area. The 30 miles
of interstate involved in this project are contained within the I&shyp;285
loop, which surrounds the site of the Games.

Sixty miles of express lanes, also known as High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)
lanes or car pool lanes, also will be added by re-ducing lane widths from
12 to 11 ft, and by encroaching upon the shoulders.

This will require a complete restriping. Since the present roadway is unsuitable
for further paint application, a combination of milling and resurfacing
is needed to prepare the pavement for new paint.

Not satisfied with past performances of their old design technology and
skeptical about its ability to handle the Atlanta challenge, GDOT reconsidered
its design process and decided to use two pieces of new technology- the
Vanguarde Mobile Survey System and PaveMOSS, a roadway redesign and rehabilitation
software package. On past projects, GDOT used a combination of "as-Built"
and photo-grammetric data to model its roadways while a cross-section based
system was used to design repaved surfaces. These methods required field
verification of the design while providing little control over material
usage. Another drawback with GDOT's previous system was its limited graphic
capabilities and its inability to correct existing problems.

Upgrading technology before a big project poses many challenges. GDOT's
personnel had to be trained with the new software and brought up to speed
in order to design and plan the project for construction to begin on time.
Making its decision in November 1994 to work with the new technology the
department had to proceed quickly with the training. Infrasoft, the North
American distributor of PaveMOSS, helped by providing training to the project
engineers, and consultants to assist GDOT in reorganizing its design sequence
to include the new systems. To complete the design phase on time, training
and consulting took place simultaneously with production.

The nature of the two systems aided considerably in making the deadline.
The Vanguarde system allowed GDOT personnel to conduct a non-contact laser
survey from a van parked on the shoulder of the road. Night surveying also
was made possible with this equipment. These features eliminated lane closures
and saved many motorists time and travel headaches. The laser improved the
accuracy of the data collected while the computer helped eliminate collection

For its accomplishments in making this project possible, the preconstruction
department of the Urban Design Office won GDOT's Commissioner's Merit award.

Having completed the design work on time, construction began June 12, 1995
on I&shyp;75 and I&shyp;85 between I&shyp;285 on the south side and the
Chattahoochee River, including the Brookwood Interchange. A $30.9 million
contract to perform this work was awarded to C.W. Matthews Construction
and APAC-Georgia, Inc. A $10.2 million contract was awarded to Shepherd
Construction Co. to begin construction on I&shyp;85, from the Piedmont Avenue
viaduct to I&shyp;285 starting July 25, 1995. All work will be completed
by July 1, 1996, in time for the Olympic Games.

This will be the most extensive repaving and restriping project in GDOT's
history. It is estimated that grinding and milling of the road surface will
generate over 200,000 tons of recyclable asphalt and 9,000 tons of asphalt
will be laid per week.

It is expected that this project will affect every person in Atlanta because
I&shyp;75 and I&shyp;85 are Atlanta's most traveled arteries.

To keep construction delays to a minimum there will be no lane closures
during morning and evening rush hours. Construction will take place at night,
on weekends and during off-peak hours.

The addition of express lanes will lower congestion on Atlanta's highways
which has been steadily rising. In 1994 traffic volume increased 20 to 40%
while the number of vehicles traveling into Atlanta from the south has increased
40%. Once open the express lanes will be reserved 24 hours a day for vehicles
with two or more occupants.

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