Appearing in a new video supporting the proposed Ga. 400 toll lanes is the director of the Perimeter Center Improvement Districts, a self-taxing district of major companies that funds infrastructure projects.
“The new capacity and express lanes on Ga. 400 is really going to be one of the critical steps that helps solve congestion relief and traffic coming into the Perimeter market from lots of other parts of metro Atlanta,” said Ann Hanlon, the PCIDs executive director, in the Georgia Department of Transportation’s video.
She said in a brief interview that she agreed, along with various other people, to be part of an “informational” video series the Georgia Department of Transportation is rolling out, which she believes will be called “Community Champions.” Asked whether it is an endorsement type of video, she said, “I wouldn’t call it an endorsement.”
A GDOT spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hanlon said in the video that the project, which would bring four new toll lanes along the highway elevated and at-grade, would be transformative for the area. Construction is expected to start in 2021. A similar, connected project would bring toll lanes to I-285, but the video focuses solely on the Ga. 400 lanes, the project GDOT is currently planning.
“We really have an unprecedented opportunity on the Ga. 400 corridor to produce something that I think metro Atlanta has never seen before,” she said. “[Ga. 400] is absolutely critical to the Perimeter market. It really provides a critical connection to the rest of metro Atlanta.”
The boards of the districts, which represent areas around I-285 and Ga. 400 in DeKalb and Fulton counties, include representatives of major companies and properties like Perimeter Mall, Cox Enterprises, UPS, Cousins Properties, Regent Partners and InterContinental Hotels Group.
GDOT has revealed in public meetings that the Ga. 400 toll lanes could have major property impacts, including the demolition of over 40 buildings in Sandy Springs, most of which are single-family houses. Property impacts south of the North Springs MARTA Station are not yet known as that section was recently shifted into the I-285 project, which is on a later timeline.
One possible property impact in the I-285 project is the demolition of an eight-unit townhome building on Sandy Springs’ Crestline Parkway for a toll lane interchange. GDOT says it is willing to consider using Crestline, rather than its preferred proposal to use Mount Vernon Highway, if the city agrees to cover the extra expense. The PCIDs has been involved in discussions about the Crestline concept, providing a traffic study and receiving credit on some of the detailed illustrations for the interchange alternatives.
Hanlon, who lives in Dunwoody, personally understands the residents’ frustration caused by the current level of congestion, she said as the video showed children playing outdoor sports.
“As a working mom, I know what it means to try to get home, to get my kids to and from sporting events or to church or to after-school activities,” she said. “And when the local network of streets is blocked up by regional commuters, that’s frustrating for everyone, including me.”
The video also showed segments of an illustrated video published by GDOT that depicts the conceptual design of the toll lanes.
-John Ruch contributed