PCIDs President and CEO Yvonne Williams stands in front of the entrance way from Abernathy to Georgia 400 on Dec. 3. Behind her, left to right: Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, UPS VP Chuck Altimari, GDOT board member Brandon Beach, State Road and Tollway Authority Director of Communications Malika Wilkins

It was a simple fix: add a lane to the entrance ramp from Abernathy Road to Ga. 400, while extending both lanes.

The work cost $2 million and was completed two months ahead of schedule. Georgia Department of Transportation officials and local leaders crowed about the accomplishment during a Dec. 3 press conference in front of the noisy entranceway to the toll road. Extra money from the Ga. 400 tolls paid for the upgrade.

After the press conference, officials said the ramp fix offers a glimpse into how officials will chip away at the region’s transportation problems, as they wait for state leaders to come up with a permanent funding solution that voters will like.

In July, metro Atlanta voters overwhelmingly rejected a transportation sales tax to pay for projects that proponents of the tax said would have improved commutes for millions of people.

Chuck Altimari, Vice President of UPS, said businesses that form the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts will be a part of finding ways to make driving around the Perimeter a little easier until there is a better way to pay for projects.

“I think we have to get creative,” he said.

Altimari said the extension of the entrance ramp is a warm up to the next big project, rebuilding the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange, a project that would’ve been funded out of the transportation sales tax money.

PCIDs has been encouraging local city councils to pass resolutions in support of the project, expected to cost $450 million.

PCIDs could pay some of that cost, Altimari said, but money would have to come from other sources.

Brandon Beach, the 6th Congressional District board member for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said GDOT is exploring quick fixes to the interchange in the short term.

“Obviously, it’s the worst interchange in the southeast,” Beach said.

There is no obvious answer as to how the state will find a long-term solution to pay for traffic improvements.

“I’m not sure what the next step is,” Altimari said. “We’ll just try to do our part and keep things moving.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com