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GDOT Commissioner talks toll roads coming to Ga. 400
City of Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt speaks at the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission this week. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

One of the first meetings in a new city of Cumming building brought attendees from all over northeast Georgia. 

On Thursday, Cumming’s new City Park Recreation Building played host to a meeting of the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, a group that represents the counties in northeast Georgia and rotates meetings to different member counties and cities. 

The evening’s keynote speaker was Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurray, who gave a “state of the state” for roads, which he said are heavily used. 

“If you put a box around Georgia -- north, south, east and west -- there’s 10.25 trillion vehicle miles traveled in the state in the month of October,” he said. “That is a lot of traffic on our roadways … that’s about 330 million miles that people drive every day on Georgia roads.” 

A widening project for I-85 in Jackson County will follow the lead of the Ga. 400 widening project, McMurray said. 

“We’re going to deploy the same thing we did in Forsyth County,” he said. “We said, ‘Hey, here’s how much money we’ve got, who can bid to go the furthest?’ We tried that right here in Forsyth County, got bids cheaper than we thought, got more roads than we thought we’d ever get and we’re going to apply that same thing on 85.” 

McMurray said he attended the opening of 13 miles of new express toll lanes on I-75 south of Atlanta before the event, which would also be coming to Ga. 400. 

“They’re reversible, so in the morning as everybody comes north, they ride in the middle and when they go home going south, they ride in the middle,” he said of the I-75 lanes. “We’re going to bring them up 400 from I-285 up to McGinnis Ferry interchange, which is not an interchange but will be.” 

The department is also looking at ways to get more Georgians working on local preventative maintenance projects. 

“This routine or preventative maintenance work is turning into small business contracting opportunities,” he said. “Talk to people that you know that have people that do tree trimming, someone that seals or stripes parking lots, people that maybe have a backhoe and a dump truck, not a fleet." 

McMurray said those jobs could be found at 

The evening was one of the first events for the new 27,000-square-foot City Park building, which opened in October after the park had been closed since January 2014 for improvements. 

“This is the coming out for our new conference center,” Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said. “It’s a conference center along with a lot of indoor programs, such as the cultural arts programs, ballet school and several other activities.”