Georgia’s I-75 is just over 355 miles long. Traveling at an average speed of 65 miles per hour, you can cover the distance in about five hours and 55 minutes. The roadway cuts across Georgia in a north/northwest-south/southeast direction.
Heading north, the interstate extends into Tennessee. Heading south it goes to Florida.
Though I-75 crosses through Georgia, it extends much further and ultimately connects in Miami, Florida with Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The Interstate offers travelers 1,786 miles, taking them through Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida.
History of Interstate 75
The roadway, like all interstates, is part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, more commonly known as the Interstate Highway System.
President Roosevelt’s Plan
Though President Eisenhower holds the title of “Father of the Interstate System” because of his leadership in promoting the Federal Highway Act of 1956 which led to the construction of I-75, it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s who first expressed interest in constructing a network of highways throughout the United States.
Roosevelt envisioned a system of toll “superhighways” that would have the added benefit of providing jobs for the droves of citizens out of work because of the Great Depression. The Federal Highway Act of 1938 was ultimately passed, and the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) began its investigation into the network’s viability.
The BPR determined that tolled roads could not sustain themselves financially, and America’s involvement in WWII postponed the development of the potential highway program. In 1944 a new Federal-Aid Highway Act was enacted to fund highway improvements and construct 40,000 miles of a “National System of Interstate Highways.”
President Eisenhower’s Persistence
President Eisenhower took office in January 1953 and states had only completed 6,500 miles of highway system improvements. Eisenhower’s experience in the U.S. military made him especially aware of the necessity of a strong highway system.
In 1919, on a transcontinental convoy, he saw first-hand the problems posed by poorly constructed road systems. During WWII, He saw how Germany’s autobahn system helped both the German and Allied forces, providing advantages for defense and the Allied forces’ mobility.
In his 1954 State of the Union Address. Eisenhower established his intent to “protect the vital interest of every citizen in a safe and adequate highway system,” a sentiment echoed in his 1956 address.
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The Federal Highway Act of 1956
Under the 1956 Act, the interstate system would be an all-freeway, no-tolls system. Though mostly funded by federal money, states handled the proper construction and maintenance of the roads, conforming with specific federal standards, including:
- Controlled access
- Median strips separating lanes of oncoming traffic
- A Minimum of two lanes in each travel direction
- Paved shoulders
- Traffic signage
As traffic volume has increased since 1956, some regulations have been adjusted. States have control of speed limits throughout their jurisdiction.
Constructing Georgia’s Interstate 75
Original plans did not take the Interstate through Macon, but in 1963 local officials succeeded in bringing I-75 through their city. The construction effort for this segment alone took eight years.
The roadway was open to all Georgia travelers by 1970, with the exception of the segment between Marietta and Adairsville.
Though “complete,” construction on I-75 has been consistent, as documented by AARoads. Major projects occurred in Atlanta from 1982 to 1987, on the Brookwood Interchange in 1986, and on the Downtown Connector from 1985 to 1988. From 1995 to 1996, Interstate lanes were re-striped and narrowed from 12 to 11 feet to accommodate HOV lanes in time for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
And everyday travelers know additional construction persists. As of this date, Commute Dash lists three current months-long projects and the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) started an expected eighth-year project in 2020 to:
- Mitigate problems with congestion, crashes, and high levels of freight
- Add capacity
- Create barriers separating commercial and general traffic
- Provide operational and technological improvements
The Benefits and Dangers of Georgia’s Deadly I-75
The I-75 helped establish Georgia as a critical transportation hub for the Southeast. According to AA Roads, except for a segment in Macon, the Interstate is at minimum six lanes wide throughout the state. When it joins Interstate 85, it comprises 16 lanes.
The Georgia DOT reports commercial vehicles carry 85% of freight shipped in Georgia, and Interstate 75 “is one of Georgia’s officially designated freight corridors.” The Georgia DOT data reference guide reports 27,680,000 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on I-75 for a recent full year of data collection.
While I-75 supports this essential freight industry, it does not do so without problems. Traffic studies by the Georgia DOT show the segment of I-75 from I-475 to McDonough sees:
- 110,000-160,000 vehicles per day, with commercial trucks representing 35,000-38,000 of that number
- 84 more accidents, 20 more injuries, and one more fatality per year than the average
- One hour of added time in traffic
And this segment is not unique in posing dangers.
Accidents on Georgia’s Deadliest Interstate
And through their everyday news consumption, Georgians know summer is not the only time the Interstate becomes deadly. Most recently, four lanes of the I-75 shut down to traffic after a major tractor-trailer accident, while other multi-vehicle accidents have caused injuries and deaths over the years.
The Worst Accidents
In 2001, Georgia saw one of its biggest accidents in history unfold on the I-75 near the Tennessee border. Extreme fog led to an accident in a northbound lane, and thanks to zero visibility, “speeding cars and trucks began ramming into the first wreck, triggering collision after collision,” according to the Savannah Morning News. The accident ultimately involved 125 cars and trucks, caused five deaths, and 39 injured victims.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS) records a 1995 accident on I-75 in Cook County after a driver operating a truck weighing 80,500 pounds fell asleep and rear-ended a pickup truck whose gas tank exploded on impact. The pickup left the roadway, colliding with a tree. The tragic outcome was six fatalities and eight serious injuries to both adult and child victims.
Protect Yourself from Losses Caused by Georgia’s Deadliest Interstate
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed on Georgia’s deadliest interstate, contact John Foy & Associates, the Strong Arm of Georgia, to speak to a personal injury lawyer. When someone else’s negligence causes you harm and loss, the party responsible owes you compensation and justice. Your lawyer will fight hard to get you the settlement you deserve.