Perimeter business owners have agreed to pony up $10.5 million to try to jump start plans to fix the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange.
“We’re saying I-285 and Ga. 400 is so critical to us that we want to put $10 million on the table,” said Donna Mahaffey, chief of staff for the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, which will provide the money.
Gov. Nathan Deal made the formal announcement May 22 that the PCIDs had agreed to raise more than $10 million for work on the project, which Deal said was “crucial to one of the metro region’s greatest economic engines.”
But $10.5 million is only a tiny portion of the money required to rebuild the intersection, which state officials say is among the busiest and most clogged interchanges in the state. Mahaffey called the PCIDs appropriation “a statement of collaborative interest and a statement of focus” on the project.
A proposed regional transportation sales tax was slated to raise $450 million for the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange as part of the $8 billion plus that would have been collected for projects in a 10-country area. But that tax was soundly defeated by metro Atlanta voters.
Since the regional sales tax defeat, political and business leaders have been looking for other ways to finance high-priced road projects. Deal praised the partnership between the state and the PCID as a sign of the future.
“Due to limited resources, this model of partnership gives us the tools we need to facilitate major transportation projects,” he said.
The PCIDs are districts of business owners clustered around the Perimeter. The districts lie in portions of Fulton and DeKalb counties. Within the districts, businesses can tax themselves for transportation improvements. In the past, the PCIDs have helped finance the half-diamond interchange at Hammond Drive and Ga. 400, and the “diverging diamond” interchange at Ashford-Dunwoody and I-285.
PCIDs’ president and CEO now calls improvements to I-285 and Ga. 400 “the No. 1 priority for the Perimeter CIDs.”
The PCIDs’ board agreed to issue bonds to raise $10 million to be used on the project, and appropriate an additional $500,000 this year for the project, Mahaffey said. In future years, the board may consider additional appropriations if they are needed, she said.
“It’s really very general at this point,” Mahaffey said, “except to say, we are at the table with these funds.”
Money will be provided to the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is developing plans for rebuilding the intersection and will be able to use the PCIDs’ cash to fill a variety of needs to keep the project moving, officials said.
“I’m sure GDOT is going through a number of different scenarios as to how they will handle this project,” Mahaffey said.
The board of the Atlanta Regional Commission also has voted to include $2 million this year in the Metro Atlanta Transportation Improvement Plan to continue engineering project development for the interchange.