Georgia began working on Interstate 20 as part of the Atlanta expressway system before the Interstate Highway Act. MacDougald Construction Co. built eight miles of Interstate 20 in Atlanta, from Hill Street near downtown to Candler Road in DeKalb County. The $8 million contract was the largest to that point in Georgia Highway Department history. Anticipating future traffic demand, the new road was six lanes wide most of the way, and in some places eight lanes wide. The road went under all the existing roads along the route, so twelve underpass box-girder bridges were built.
MacDougald used three different crews to complete grading for the project, with culvert work sublet to Gentry and Thompson. MacDougald used six Cat® DW21 scrapers, three No. 12 motor graders, and a fleet of dozers and pushers. The route for the new interstate highway cut through the rolling hills where much of the Battle of Atlanta was fought, including Leggett Hill, at the intersection of Moreland Avenue. The deepest cut made during construction was about forty feet, and the deepest fill was also about forty feet. From the end of the MacDougald section, Ledbetter-Johnson Co. of Rome built the highway out toward Lithonia.
Shepherd Construction Co. built seven miles of Interstate 20 east from Lithonia. Unlike most interstate projects, this job required Shepherd to incorporate U.S. Highway 278 into the new interstate. The existing highway would become either two lanes of the interstate or be used as part of the service road. Because 20,000 cars used Highway 278 to carry commuters to and from Atlanta every day, Shepherd had to plan its work day to minimize disruption and ensure the safety of its workers.
The project required moving 1 million cubic yards of material and borrowing 305,600 cubic yards from one borrow pit adjacent to the job and another less than a mile south of the center of the project.
Shepherd utilized three Caterpillar 631 tractor-scrapers, a power-shift D9 equipped with a cushion push block, and a D8 Series H with tractor-mounted ripper and dozer. A smaller spread of equipment included a Cat® D21-470 tractor-scraper and a Cat® No. 12 motor grader.
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Building Georgia's Interstates 1956 - 1970