A project to help relieve the commutes of some 400,000 motorists and address concerns of businesses in the Perimeter area is one step closer to reality.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Sept. 30 that the Federal Highway Administration has approved the Atlanta Transportation Improvement Plan, which includes money to rebuilt the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange project.

Local mayors said they welcomed the news.

“This project will be a game-changer, offering significant improvements in mobility not only in all areas touched by the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange, but in the surface streets that connect to this corridor,” Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said in a statement. “It is a major step forward in the infrastructure of this region.”

Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis said the approval is important for his city.

“We are pleased the FHA approved funding for the I-285 at 400 corridor improvements. Dunwoody is a critical hub for business and corporate activity and the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange project is of significant importance for the future of mobility within the city and the region, he said. “The city’s residents, businesses and surface streets surely will benefit from the project’s congestion mitigation efforts.”

According to a press release from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the FHA determined the plan met federal air quality regulations. That decision was the final step in moving the project forward.

“These interchange improvements are crucial to improving Georgia’s transportation infrastructure and expanding our role as a major logistics hub for global commerce,” Deal said in the press release.

“We are utilizing all the tools that the state has available — accrued motor fuel revenues, authorized bonds, private participation through the Perimeter CIDs, Georgia’s strong AAA bond rating and an improved schedule of debt payments — to facilitate this project and provide much needed relief for commuters and area businesses.”

The improvements include the new flyover ramps, collector-distributor lanes and other features to aid east-west travel on along I-285 and north-south travel along Ga. 400. The GDOT estimates the design-build cost to be $1.06 billion. In May Deal and the GDOT approved the sale of $130 million in previously authorized bonds and the use of $81.5 million in accrued state motor fuel funds to speed up the project.