From the Georgia Department of Transportation:
The Georgia Department of Transportation is pleased to advise you of a project on I-85 southbound that will improve safety and ease congestion created by heavy traffic volume from Georgia 400 merging onto I-85 southbound in Fulton County.
Work will begin Sunday, March 13, 2011, to restripe one lane of Interstate 85 southbound to produce a dedicated merge lane — a “free on” lane — for traffic on Georgia 400 southbound at its merge with I-85. The rightmost (outside) lane of I-85 southbound will be restriped from just south of Exit 86 (Peachtree Street) to the Georgia 400 on-ramp; I-85 traffic will then have three general purpose lanes on the left and the HOV lane. After the restriping, motorists merging onto I-85 from Georgia 400 southbound will have two dedicated lanes for a much longer distance. The outside Georgia 400 lane (right exit lane) will end at the same location where it ends today. Work will be completed by morning rush hour on Monday, March 14 (weather permitting).
The project is the result of the Department identifying alternatives to ease congestion at this busy interchange. During commute peak times, motorists on I-85 southbound now contend with heavy Georgia 400 traffic accessing I-85 lanes, resulting in “lane weave” – drivers changing lanes within short distances — which is a significant safety issue. The restriping of I-85 will allow Georgia 400 traffic to more smoothly enter I-85 via a dedicated southbound merge lane, reducing the need for lane changes.
Barriers will be installed and the lane will be restriped to direct I-85 traffic to move to the left from the outside (right) lane several hundred feet prior to the merge. Roadside signage will also be installed to warn motorists of the upcoming lane merge and warnings will be painted onto the pavement prior to the merge point. With these measures in place, motorists will have adequate notice prior to the point of the merge and will be able to adapt their driving behavior accordingly.
A GDOT study recommended the restriping solution as the most feasible and cost-effective strategy to reduce the congestion at the Georgia 400/Interstate 85 southbound interchange. At this time, adding a fifth southbound lane from the merge point south is cost-prohibitive.
You are encouraged to visit the project’s website for more information about the project, including an animation of how traffic will adjust and flow in the newly striped lanes.