Thursday, November 21, 2013

Feds announce $275 million loan for metro Atlanta highway project

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 5:36 PM

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the federal loan atop a Midtown parking deck.
  • Maggie Lee
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the federal loan atop a Midtown parking deck.
Georgia landed some major help from the feds for a highway project in northwest metro Atlanta.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx this afternoon announced that the state will receive a $275 million loan to help jumpstart the Northwest Corridor Project, a massive managed-lane build that's expected to ease traffic in Cobb and Cherokee counties.

"Folks want their time back," Foxx told reporters at an Atlanta press conference. "That's why projects like this are so important."

Construction will start next year on the new, reversible, toll lanes along nearly 30 miles of I-75 and I-575. The state will get the federal money, part of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, in the form of a 35-year loan with a 3.79-percent interest rate. TIFIA loans are meant to help transportation projects that might otherwise wither due to size, complexity, or uncertainty.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, total costs for the build will amount to nearly $834 million. It won't look exactly like the HOT lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett County, where existing lanes were striped off from the others. New lanes will be built, while the variable pricing and Peach Pass use will be the same.

The toll-road project happens to run right beside where the Braves have "secured" land to build a new $672 million stadium in Cobb. But GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden said the project had been discussed years before the team's recent announcement.

"There was no collaboration [with the Braves]," Golden said.

Foxx added that the Northwest Corridor Project was chosen for a competitive loan because it stood out as a "really good project" with "really good collaboration across a lot of political barriers." He also acknowledged Georgia U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson for their active advocacy across party lines with the federal loan.

"Investing in our nation's infrastructure can still bring Republicans and Democrats together," he said.

The project is expected to be finished in early 2018. We've embedded a document that includes the build's timeline and other details, which you can read after the jump.

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