Construction delays daily, nightly on 85

LAWRENCEVILLE - Drivers will have to be wary of construction on Interstate 85 this week both in the middle of the day and the middle of the night.

Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope released a schedule Monday that included pacing to put 66-ton beams over the interstate at night and stopping traffic to blast through rock during the day.

"It's going to be a really big deal this week," she said of the construction.

Beginning Wednesday, the inside lane of I-85 northbound will close at 8:30 p.m. so that crews can place a crane there. Another crane will be stationed on the road shoulder, so crews can lift the 132,000-pound beams, the longest of which is 147 feet long.

"These suckers are so big that they take two cranes to move them," she said.

To keep the roadway clear while the heavy lifting is going on, law enforcement officers will begin pacing traffic at Jimmy Carter Boulevard, driving at about 15 miles per hour, Pope said.

The pacing will last about 30 minutes, beginning at 11 p.m. Then, the crews will allow a free-flow of traffic in all lanes except the inside one for the next 30 minutes.

The process will repeat up to five times each night. Pope said the inside lane will be cleared by 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, by 9 a.m. Saturday and by 11 a.m. Sunday, but the time could be earlier if the work wraps up sooner.

The contractor wants to set 15 beams this week for the new Old Norcross bridge over the interstate, which could only take three nights. But officials have planned a fourth night for the work in case rain or other factors delay it one night.

Pope said the contractor also has plans for blasting away rock.

If crews can prepare in time, the first explosion is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday and subsequent blasts are set for Wednesday and Thursday at the same time.

For the mid-day task, officers will stop traffic for I-85 northbound at Steve Reynolds Boulevard and on I-85 southbound at Ga. Highway 316. Traffic on Old Norcross Road and Ga. 316 westbound will also be stopped for about 10 minutes, Pope said.

Dot District Engineer Russell McMurry said drivers can expect blasting to continue about three times a week for the remainder of the summer.

To check the construction schedule and lane closures for the I-85, Ga. 316 reconstruction project, which is expected to continue through 2008, go to www.georgianavigator.com.