The Daily Post gives a thumbs up to Gwinnett citizens who have stood apart this week.

Groundbreaking step

Gov. Sonny Perdue and other state, local and federal officials this week broke ground on the $147 million reconstruction of the interchange of Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 316, the most expensive single road project in state history.

While the actual construction is just beginning, officials have worked for decades to revamp the interchange, which steers traffic from Ga. 316 westbound into the fast lane of I-85 southbound on the left side of the road.

The reconstruction includes two new "fly-over" bridges to direct Ga. 316 westbound traffic to the right side of I-85 or to Pleasant Hill Road. The existing merge point will become a high-occupancy vehicle only merge, and the HOV lanes will be extended north on I-85 and east on Ga. 316. New collector-distributor lanes will tie into the existing system, connecting traffic from Pleasant Hill Road to Old Peachtree Road.

With 267,000 vehicles traveling through the intersection every day, the interchange carries a lot more traffic than when it first opened on Nov. 24, 1962.

So officials worked for decades, redesigning the blueprints four times, lobbying for money, buying the land and ensuring the project is environmentally sound.

We give a thumbs up for those involved in the steps the project has taken thus far.

You're a STAR

Thumbs up this week go to Gwinnett County's STAR students.

The seniors who scored highest at their respective schools on the SAT were honored Friday.

The students, also in the top 10 percent of their class, each chose a teacher to recognize as having a strong influence on their academic careers.

Buford High School senior Will Hunter will represent Buford City Schools, along with his teacher Tim Harris. Amanda Brouillette of Parkview High School, who got a perfect score, will represent Gwinnett County Public Schools. She chose Doug Wagner as her STAR teacher.

Brouillette and Hunter will go on to represent the county at the regional level. A panel of judges will choose the Georgia STAR student and teacher from the regional winners. Selection is based on scholarship, extracurricular activities, citizenship and leadership initiative.

Last year, the top Georgia STAR students were both from Gwinnett County. Lucas Bermudez of Parkview High School was the 2005 State STAR Student, and he named his physics teacher, Philip Heier, as his STAR Teacher. Joseph Song of Brookwood High School was the first runner-up in the state competition. He chose biology teacher Dan Rawlins as his STAR Teacher.