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UPA/CRD Annual Report
Atlanta I-85 Express Lanes and Transit Projects

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Cover graphic shows a view of Atlanta downtown buildings in the background. Signage in the foreground indicates the off-ramp from the highway leads to Fulton Street and Central Avenue.
Atlanta – Picture Courtesy of SRTA


  • Georgia Department of Transportation
  • State Road and Tollway Authority
  • Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
  • Atlanta Regional Commission
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Department of Public Safety
  • Gwinnett County
  • Clean Air Campaign
  • City of Atlanta


Georgia has an agreement with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) to receive funds to convert approximately 16 miles of existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to HOT lanes (Express Lanes) on Interstate 85 (I-85) to help improve mobility and provide reliable trip times through value pricing. Concurrent transit projects will also be implemented, including two new Park-and-Ride lots, and 36 new commuter coaches to provide commuting options.

Atlanta I-85 Express Lanes and Transit Projects



  • Express lanes
    • Secured NEPA Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the HOV to HOT conversion on I-85 in March 2010.
    • Contracted for new 6C non-proprietary transponder technology for electronic toll collections in February 2010.
    • Started design-build of new tolling system backoffice and in-lane equipment in March 2010.
    • Started construction of sign structures, overhead gantries, and roadside communication equipment to support toll operations in August 2010.
  • Park-and-Ride lots – In the Atlanta CRD I-85 north corridor, 2,450 park-and-ride spaces are in the process of being added at four locations including: 750 spaces leased at the Mall of Georgia, 400 spaces leased from the Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, construction of 918 spaces at Hamilton Mill, and construction of 384 spaces at I-985 and GA20 park-and-ride lot. Outside the I-85 corridor, four new park-and- ride lots with a total of 2,500 parking spaces were completed during 2010.
  • New buses – Twenty new commuter coaches were ordered during 2010 for delivery in May 2011.


I-85 Express Lanes Milestones are shown on a timeline, extending from the CRD Grant Award in November 2008 through various planning, development, and review phases to Express Lanes opening in 2011, and to post-deployment performance monitoring in 2012.
I-85 Express Lane milestones

Transit projects that were concurrent with the I-85 Express Lane project are shown on a timeline, extending from the CRD Grant Award in November 2008 through planning and monitoring phases to the opening of Park and Ride lots from late 2010 through the summer of 2011, and to post-deployment performance monitoring in 2012.
Concurrent transit projects milestones

Non-technical Support Activities

  • Public Outreach and Marketing
    • A national panel of experts session titled, "Successful HOT Lane Projects: A National Perspective," which drew over 100 attendees and received regional and local media coverage.
    • Launch of the Peach Pass project website in summer 2010. Peach Pass is the branding of the electronic toll system, and is Georgia's equivalent to Sun Pass and I-Pass.
    • Development of a project video that describes the project benefits and how to use the I-85 Express Lanes.
    • Distribution of the I-85 Express eNewsletters electronically, which provides project updates, resources, and background information.
    • Construction kick off information sessions and events as well as weekly construction update emails.
    • Outreach with entities such as the Clean Air Campaign to promote carpooler formation is ongoing.

Independent Evaluation

  • National Evaluation Plan completed in September 2010. National Test Plans under development.
  • Baseline traffic data being collected quarterly and traveler and transit surveys being developed. Post-deployment data collection started in summer 2010 and continuing through August 2012.


Key Evaluation Findings

  • Early focus groups on the Express Lane concept revealed key messaging of "keeping moving" resonating better than "trip time reliability" and other explanations for benefits of using the Express Lane. Focus group participants explained that moving faster relative to the adjacent General Purpose Lane was important.

Lessons Learned

  • Cooperation and frequent communication between local, State, and Federal agencies is paramount for the fast implementation of projects.
I-85 Express Lanes corridor map. A road map shows the I-85 highway and adjacent roads over a distance of approximately 16 miles. Highlighting indicates the location of six HOT Lane entry/exit areas.
I-85 Express Lanes corridor, approximately 16 miles


  • Express lanes
    • Peach Pass tolling account sign-up "Go-Live" spring 2011.
    • Open I-85 Express Lanes August 2011.
  • Park-and-ride lots – Open Hamilton Mill and I-985 and GA20 park-and-ride lots in July 2011.
  • New buses – Twenty new commuter coaches delivery in May 2011.
I-85 Express Lanes bus routes and locations of park and ride lots. A road map shows the I-85 highway and adjacent roads and indicators for the locations of park and ride lots. Highlighting on the highway indicates bus routes that use the express lanes.
Concurrent transit projects

For Further Information

CRD website:

I-85 Express Lanes Project website:

Peach Pass website:

GRTA Xpress website:

Atlanta CRD contacts:
Karlene Barron
Director of Communications
Georgia Department of Transportation

Malika Reed Wilkins
Director of Marketing and Communications
State Road and Tollway Authority

Andrew Edwards
Planning Team Leader
FHWA Georgia Division

DOT Logo, U.S. Department of Transportaion


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