ROAD CONSTRUCTION: Ga. picks private partner for Northwest Corridor

Project will build two managed lanes along I-75 northwest of Atlanta

July 31, 2013

The Georgia State Transportation Board has selected Northwest Express Roadbuilders (NWER) as the best-value private-sector partner for the state's planned $840 million, 30-mile Northwest Corridor (NWC) managed-lane project northwest of Atlanta.

The State Transportation Board instructed the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) staff to negotiate a final contract with NWER, which could mean a 2014 construction start and the project opening to traffic by 2018.

"This is a proud day for this board and for the Georgia Department of Transportation," STB Chairman Johnny Floyd said in a statement. "I want to thank Governor [Nathan] Deal for his leadership in helping us achieve this milestone. A great many people have worked tirelessly to bring the Northwest Corridor to this moment in time. They can be very proud of their efforts, but we have still more work to do. For as great as this day is, I anticipate two even more momentous days: one, when we finalize the contract, and the second, when we open the Northwest Corridor to traffic."

Northwest Express Roadbuilders is a joint venture of Archer Western Contractors LLC, of Atlanta, and Hubbard Construction Co., of Winter Park, Fla. Parsons Transportation Group Inc., headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., with a major office in Atlanta, will serve as lead engineering firm.

According to GDOT, the NWC project will build two new managed lanes along the west side of I-75 between its interchanges with I-285 and I-575. The lanes will be barrier- separated from the existing interstate and will be reversible so that both will carry traffic southbound during morning commute hours and northbound in the evenings. Above the I-575 interchange, one new reversible lane will be added in the I-75 center median to Hickory Grove Road and a similar new I-575 lane will extend to Sixes Road. The State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) is partnering with GDOT on the project. Motorists will be able to utilize the I-75 and I-575 Express Lanes as well as other managed-lanes system roadways by choosing to participate in SRTA's Peach Pass program, which uses remote transponders to assess variable-rate tolls based on traffic volumes. Vehicles will access the NWC managed-lane system via six new interchanges on I-75 and slip ramp access points from existing lanes on I-575.

GDOT officials said that the NWC will be financed by a combination of federal, state and private-sector funds provided by NWER.

NWER's best-value proposal of $599 million is the largest element of the Northwest Corridor project's overall cost estimate, which now stands at $840 million. That total is significantly less than previous estimates of $951 million, due in large measure to the innovations proposed by NWER.