LAWRENCEVILLE - Between traffic and lane closures, driving above 30 mph on Interstate 85 might be hard these days.
But the Department of Transportation wants people to slow down regardless of traffic to keep crews safe while they are working on construction.
That's why the DOT has lowered the speed limit on a stretch of the interstate to 45 mph.
The change comes about six weeks after the DOT lowered the speed limit on Ga. Highway 316 near I-85 because of the $150 million project to redesign the interchange, including adding a flyover bridge to take Ga. 316 westbound drivers to the right side of I-85 southbound.
Preliminary work such as removing trees and light poles has already begun, and lane closures affect one of the two roadways nearly each week.
"In our active work zones the speed limit is lowered by 10 miles per hour but this change lowers the speed limit on Interstate 85 and State Route 316, 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the life of the project," DOT District Engineer Russell McMurry said. "It is a safety decision. For the safety of people driving through the area and for our employees in the area, it is absolutely imperative that drivers slow down in this construction zone. There will be dozens of pieces of equipment and people working in or near I-85 at all times of the day. We must maintain a slower, consistent pace of traffic."
As per Georgia law, fines for those caught speeding in a construction zones will face doubled fines - up to $2,000.
Next week, the DOT will close lanes if weather permits.
The schedule is to close the outside lane of I-85 northbound from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday beginning at south of Pleasant Hill Road to Ga. 316. The outside lane of I-85 southbound will be closed from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning at Ga. 316 to just south of Pleasant Hill Road. If weather does not allow this work to occur Monday, it will happen in the same areas at the same times on Tuesday.
Beginning May 5, overnight work is planned beginning at 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday. The outside lane on I-85 southbound will be closed from Boggs Road to Pleasant Hill Road so workers can install temporary barrier wall around the Old Norcross Road bridge.
Controlled blasting will begin next week, McMurry said.
Pacing will occur on both I-85 and Ga. 316 between noon and 2 p.m. to ensure the safety of drivers.
"No vehicles will be in the area when each blast occurs. Law enforcement officers will slow down I-85 southbound traffic at Sugarloaf Parkway and I-85 northbound traffic will be slowed at Steve Reynolds Boulevard," McMurry said. "State Route 316 traffic eastbound will be controlled by slowing I-85 northbound traffic and State Route 316 westbound traffic will be slowed at Sugarloaf Parkway. The slowdown will only last for a couple of minutes each time it occurs. Blasting will happen throughout the summer."