Georgia has a dense road network, both in the Atlanta area and in rural areas. A lot of roads are designed as a 2×2 divided highway, every county is served by such roads. In addition, there are the freeways, mainly formed by the Interstate Highways. The state’s main hub is, of course, the city of Atlanta.
The state highway authority is the Georgia Department of Transportation, abbreviated GDOT. GDOT has its origins in the State Highway Department that was established in 1916. In 1972 this was transformed into the current Georgia Department of Transportation.
GDOT manages 28,936 kilometers of state highway, which also includes the US Highways and Interstate Highways. This includes 2,008 kilometers of Interstate Highway. The state has a total of 199,000 kilometers of road, much of which is controlled by the counties and cities. Georgia is one of the few states that also assigns administrative state route numbers to Interstate Highways and US Highways.
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The major highway network in the state consists of the Interstate Highways. Interstate 20 is the main east-west route and passes through Atlanta and Augusta. Interstate 85 is a diagonal east-west route that also serves the Atlanta metropolitan area. Interstate 75 is the longest north-south route, running from the Florida border to Chattanooga via Atlanta. I-75 and I-85 are double-numbered in Atlanta in the form of the Downtown Connector. I-75 is fully serviced by Georgia with 2×3 lanes or more. Interstate 16 connects I-75 at Macon to the coastal city of Savannah. Interstate 95. runs along the east coastfrom Jacksonville to Savannah which has 2×3 lanes. In the far northwest of the state, Interstate 24 and Interstate 59 run briefly into the state.
The main route network of the Interstate Highways is supplemented by a few 3-digit auxiliary routes, such as Interstate 185 from Columbus to I-85, Interstate 285 as a ring road from Atlanta, Interstate 520 as a ring road from Augusta and a number of spurs, such as Interstate 675 in the south of Atlanta, Interstate 575 in the north of the metro area, and Interstate 985 from Gainesville to I-85. Interstate 516 runs into Savannah. At Macon, Interstate 475 forms a bypass for the city.
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The underlying road network has been set up on a large scale, and the large number of main roads with long 2×2 lanes are striking. The underlying road network is therefore highly developed, this is because Georgia outside the Atlanta metropolitan area is not so sparsely populated, but the countryside is dotted with villages and small towns. The underlying road network consists of US Highways, but several State Routes have also been expanded with 2×2 lanes over longer distances. Thus, there is a fast and comfortable road network outside the highways. The US Highways that run directly parallel to an Interstate are usually not built with multiple lanes in each direction. The secondary road network is well developed in all parts of the state, but the tertiary road network under the US Highways is relatively thin in the Southeast and Northeast.
A large number of US Highways traverse the state, most of which have relatively little importance for long-haul traffic, but mainly handle regional traffic. Many US Highways have been constructed as a 2×2 divided highway at some point.
A dense network of state routes complements the secondary road network. These are numbered from 1 to 399. The series 400 to 499 are administrative numbers for Interstate Highways, State Route 401 is better known as Interstate 75. The road numbers 500 to 599 are used for the Governor’s Road Improvement Georgia program. These are mainly 2×2 divided highways.
State routes operated as freeway;
- SR-10: Freedom Parkway in Atlanta, Stone Mountain Freeway in Atlanta, Monroe Bypass, Athens Bypass
- SR-13: Midtown Atlanta
- SR-85: Manchester Expressway in Columbus
- SR-141: Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta
- SR-154: Langford Parkway in Atlanta
- SR-166: Langford Parkway in Atlanta
- SR-316: Lawrenceville Bypass
- SR-400: US 19 freeway (Atlanta–Cumming)
- SR-540: Fall Line Freeway (actually 2×2 divided highway)
There are no more general toll roads in Georgia, but State Route 400 was a toll road in northern Atlanta until 2013. There are some express lanes, however, on Interstate 75 in northwest Atlanta and on Interstate 85 in northeast Georgia.
The toll road operator in the state is the Georgia State Road & Tollway Authority. The electronic toll system in Georgia is the Peach Pass.
Before 1944, there was no federal funding available for road construction in towns of more than 2,500, meaning larger cities like Atlanta and Macon lacked the resources to build highways. In 1944 a plan was drawn up for 5 highways from Atlanta, to Spartanburg, Chattanooga, Birmingham, Montgomery and Macon. In 1947, this plan was expanded to include a route from Atlanta to Augusta, from Macon to Savannah, from Macon to the Florida border at Valdosta, and a coastal route. This more or less corresponded to the later Interstate Highway plan.
In 1947, a plan for highways in Atlanta was also unfolded, the so-called “Lochner Plan”. At the time, the region had about a million inhabitants. This plan largely coincided with the way the Interstate Highways were later built, but was different on I-20. I-20 would be double numbered with I-75/85 along the east side of Downtown Atlanta. I-20 was planned further north than where the highway was eventually built, along the north side of Downtown and in the east side of the metropolitan area, bending to Decatur. This plan was actually a copy of the then railways that had lost relevance for passenger transport. Atlanta’s highway plan was therefore based on the transportation movements that had existed since the 19th century: to and from downtown.
Construction of the motorways started in 1948 and after 10 years some 25 kilometers of the Lochner Plan of 1947 had been opened. However, the creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956 allowed for a much greater expansion of the road network. The Downtown Connector in Atlanta opened to traffic in September 1964 and had cost $33 million. At the time of construction, the design was modified from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes due to the rapid increase in traffic. However, as early as the 1960s it became clear that 2×3 lanes would prove insufficient in the long run. By 1958, 65,000 vehicles a day were driving on the then-opened sections of I-75 through Atlanta.
The population of Georgia has grown strongly since the 1970s, which also ensured that it still had a relatively limited population after the Second World War, of approximately 3.3 million inhabitants. As a result, highways were few and far between, although Georgia has always been active in widening regular highways to 2×2 lanes, so the need for highways has been relatively limited. In about 1952, the state’s first freeway, two sections of the Downtown Connector in Atlanta, opened. In the early 1960s, most of the construction was on I-75 in the south of the state and in the Atlanta area. Construction activity increased in the mid-1960s, as sections of I-20, I-75, and I-85 opened. In the early 1970s, these routes were largely completed, although all routes still had missing links. Around 1978 and 1979, the last missing links on I-20, I-75 and I-85 were removed. Construction of I-95 began a little later, significant sections did not open until the 1970s, and this highway was completed by 1979.
Atlanta’s ring road, I-285, was built between 1963 and 1969. At the time, there were plans for a second ring road, I-485, which have not materialized, making Atlanta one of the few conurbations that has really grown far beyond the ring road, with some suburbs more than 40 kilometers outside the ring road, making suburban traffic is problematic. Since about 1980, few new Interstate Highways have been built in Georgia. Some more recent achievements include I-575 north of Atlanta between 1980 and 1985, I-675 south of Atlanta in 1987, and I-520 in Augusta in 1998. There are also some suburban highways built around Atlanta, but few of them. have a significant length. However, in the 1980s, the highway network of the Atlanta region was drastically expanded in “freeing the freeways”. -program. Outside the Atlanta area, few developments have occurred in the road network, Atlanta dominates the state in all respects.
Governor’s Road Improvement Program
The Governor’s Road Improvement Program (GRIP) is a network of highways that connects all towns of more than 2,500 residents to the Interstate Highway network, and 98% of the population of Georgia within 30 kilometers of a 2×2 divided highway. places. This project started in 1989 and resulted in a very dense network of 2×2 roads in rural Georgia. The plan originally included 4,578 kilometers of road, but was later expanded to 5,321 kilometers of road. The aim was to make the network of roads safer, because roads with separate carriageways have fewer head-on accidents. There has also been criticism that too much money has been spent on upgrading low-traffic rural roads to dual carriageways, when that money could have been better invested in the Atlanta area.
Freeing the Freeways
Atlanta grew much faster than expected from the 1960s onwards, and congestion took a dramatic turn shortly after the first freeways opened. In the 1950s, when the highway network was designed, the region had a population of 800,000, 350,000 of whom were in Atlanta. There was no question of large-scale suburbanization yet. The population of the region grew drastically and traffic jams became unsustainable. In 1976, a $1.4 billion program began to widen all highways in the region. Under the program 204 kilometers of highway were widened. The most eye-catching project was the widening of the Downtown Connector from 6 to 14 lanes. The project was largely completed in 1989. Due to extreme population growth during and after the project, expansions were necessary later on. However, a second ring road, as had been planned for years, never materialized.