If you drive in metro Atlanta traffic regularly – or probably if you have driven in it even once – you probably think you’ve seen it all. However, the commercial motor vehicle (CMV)-only lanes that are planned on I-75 between Macon and McDonough would probably be a first. Only a few even remotely similar roadways exist in the country.
The two barrier-separated lanes will be designated specifically for commercial trucks of various sizes in hopes of reducing traffic volume and increasing safety and mobility, according to government documents.
“Georgia DOT is evaluating the potential addition of two designated commercial vehicle lanes on northbound I-75 between Macon and metro Atlanta to improve mobility for passenger vehicles and commercial freight carriers along one of the fastest growing corridors in the Southeast,” the agency said in an overview of the plan. “The I-75 Commercial Vehicle Lanes are part of Georgia’s plan to increase economic competitiveness and develop an integrated, multi-modal transportation network on our interstate highways.”
Engineering, environmental, design and right-of-way planning are expected to take place until 2024 with the projected completion date set for 2029. The project comes with an estimated $1.8 billion price tag.
For those who get nervous while driving beside an 18-wheeler, news of this type of managed lane probably seems like Christmas coming early. Unfortunately, these CMV-only lanes are relatively rare.
As a National Academy of Science (NAS) study found, “While there is a substantial body of information on CMV-only lanes from planning and feasibility studies, there are very few real-world applications of the concept.”
The Georgia project will be the first of its kind in the United States. Other similar concepts, which are more common, include separated lanes just for passenger vehicles, lane restrictions for trucks, truck lanes as they climb steep grades, etc.
These CMV-only lanes are expected to increase travel speeds and decrease delays because slower commercial vehicles won’t be present. They are also expected to increase safety, improve freight productivity, and reduce vehicle emissions. But it’s important to keep in mind this is still theoretical.
As the NAS study states: “The results from the performance evaluation task consistently indicate that truck-only lanes have higher safety benefits compared to mixed-flow lanes. However, the results are inconclusive in understanding the ‘true’ incremental safety benefits of truck lanes because of the differences in capacities between the truck-only and mixed-flow lane alternatives considered in the studies.”
Though it is still theory at this point, CMV-only lanes will likely be a reality soon enough, and, as always, the safety of the public should be at the forefront of all related decisions.
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Chris Glover practices in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office. He handles truck accident claims in Atlanta, throughout the state of Georgia, and nationwide. For more information about trucking litigation or to discuss a potential truck accident claim, contact Chris Glover at 800-898-2034 or email Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com.
National Academy of Science