Georgia officials planning massive overhaul of Atlanta-Athens link

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(The Center Square) — Georgia officials are planning a massive multi-million-dollar overhaul of State Route 316, a busy and dangerous thoroughfare.

State officials are spending $1.3 million on a study that began in 2022. A Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman indicated that the project’s three “bundles” would cost roughly $406 million.

The upgrades ostensibly aim to decrease congestion, reduce crashes’ severity and frequency, and accommodate growth and economic development.

Reconstruction projects impacting the 40-mile-long corridor in Gwinnett, Barrow and Oconee counties are underway, and “several impactful projects have been completed or are in active phases,” a GDOT spokesperson told The Center Square via email. “The current study addresses the continued need for operational and safety improvements throughout the corridor.”

The highway, generally a four-lane, divided highway, runs from Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County to State Route 10, the Athens Perimeter, in Oconee County, making it a key connection between Atlanta and Athens. Officials currently list 32 projects along the corridor, including three that have been completed and one that is under construction.

For example, a 1.6-mile-long upgrade to the at-grade intersection of Dials Mill Road Extension and State Route 316 in Oconee County could include a diamond interchange with roundabout-controlled ramps off State Route 316. The project, slated for completion in 2028, could cost $2.7 million for preliminary engineering, $2.7 million for right-of-way acquisition and $33.4 million for construction.

However, officials are also considering a “no-build” option. Under this approach, transportation officials would “maintain the existing at-grade intersections at Dials Mill Extension and Dials Mill Road” but not improve safety.