Georgia “I-285 & SR 400 Interchange Rebuilding Plan” Makes National List of Highway Boondoggles, Will Cost $600 Million

New Report Identifies Nine Highway Boondoggles Across the Country

Georgia PIRG Education Fund

Contact: Matt Casale, Georgia PIRG Transportation Program Director, (617) 747-4314, [email protected]

Highway projects are notorious for wasting taxpayer dollars. Now, a new report by Georgia PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group identifies nine of the most wasteful highway expansion projects across the country, slated to collectively cost at least $30 billion. Making the list of national highway boondoggles is the proposed “I-285 & SR 400 Interchange Rebuilding Plan” in Atlanta, Georgia. In total, the plan would cost $600 million to rebuild and expand Interstate 285 and State Route 400.

Georgia PIRG Education Fund released the report on Tuesday, along with Environment Georgia Research and Policy Center.

“The money we spend today decides how we get around tomorrow,” said Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia Research and Policy Center. “We need to start solving our transportation problems, from potholes to pollution, and not waste money on the type of highway projects that should be in our rearview mirror.”

The report finds that the expansion will only give temporary relief from traffic jams and that the project isn’t being designed in a way that would maximize its usefulness for transit. Many Atlanta area residents have been clamoring more coordinated transit service for years, including express bus service. While the highway expansion will add capacity for cars, there are no plans for bus lanes, squandering an opportunity to improve the region’s transit network.   

“From 2008 to 2015, state highway debt more than doubled to $217 billion,” said Gideon Weissman, a Frontier Group analyst and report co-author. “We keep building new highways we don’t need, and that hurts our ability to move toward a smart 21st century transportation system that works for all of us.”

The report recommends that states reexamine proposed highway expansion projects in light of changing transportation needs and instead invest in more effective solutions, such as road repair and transit expansion, that reduce the misplaced appetite for costly and disruptive highway expansion projects.  

“We need to be smarter about how we spend our transportation dollars. Now and in the future, Georgia should have less pollution, less gridlock and more public transit,” said Gayer. “ We have the tools to build a better transportation system. We just need to use them.”