Georgia approves $598.5m NWC contract

The Northwest Corridor project, which began in 2001, moves closer to being realised following state transportation board approval of a design-build contract.

The Georgia Transportation Board has given final clearance for a $598.5 million contract for the design and construction of the Northwest Corridor (NWC) managed lanes mobility improvement project, which has encountered numerous delays since its concept development in 2001, the board said in a statement.

The work to be carried out by Northwest Express Roadbuilders (NWER), a joint venture of Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors and Florida firm Hubbard Construction, will be financed through a combination of federal and state funds as well as funding from the consortium itself.

“The wide-ranging agreement […] also spells out various financial, construction and operational agreements between the Georgia Department of Transportation [GDOT], which will oversee design and building of the NWC, and the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), which will operate the 30 miles of managed lanes,” the board said in its statement.

The project has a total estimated cost of $840 million, “making it by far the largest project in Georgia DOT history,” according to the statement.

NWC involves building two new lanes along the west side of Interstate 75 (I-75) between its interchanges with I-285 and I-575. The lanes will be separated from the existing highway and will be reversible, both carrying southbound traffic during the morning rush hour and northbound traffic in the evenings.

Another reversible lane will be added above the I-575 interchange and a similar new I-575 lane will be extended.

State officials expect the contract to be signed in November provided that the SRTA Board and the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission also approve the agreement. If all approvals are granted, construction would begin next year and NWC would open to traffic in 2018.

“We’ve been working towards this moment for years,” STB chairman Jay Shaw said. “It is gratifying to finally be able to tell the hundreds of thousands of motorists who use this corridor that their patience has been appreciated and that better mobility choices are truly coming.”

The project is a combination of two projects initially undertaken separately by GDOT and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA).

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was issued in May 2007. “Changes in the economic landscape since that time have led GDOT to conclude that the ambitious project originally envisioned is simply not financially feasible,” according to the NWC project website. “This reality has led to rethinking the requirements for the corridor while still addressing the basic needs for congestion relief and providing alternative modes of transportation with a significantly reduced footprint approach.”