I-85/316 work to begin soon

LAWRENCEVILLE - In just a couple of weeks, drivers will see the first signs of work on the long-awaited reconstruction of the Ga. Highway 316/Interstate 85 interchange, transportation officials announced Wednesday.

But they won't start to feel the pain until March, with the first major lane closures of the three-year construction process, said Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer Russell McMurry.

"The contractor is getting all their paperwork, equipment, materials and crews ready," McMurry said. "Weather permitting, we expect to begin clearing trees and shrubs in the project area in February. Clearing is the first stage of construction. You will see the clearing occur, but it will not impact traffic, except for motorists slowing down and watching the work."

Growing pains, though, will begin the following month, he said.

"Our projected schedule shows a ramp closure that will definitely affect traffic beginning sometime in March," McMurry said. "The entrance ramp from Boggs Road to Interstate 85 southbound will close in March and be closed throughout construction."

With a price tag of nearly $150 million, the project isn't scheduled to be complete until the end of 2008.

Construction includes flyover bridges to connect Ga. 316 westbound to Pleasant Hill Road and I-85 and the extension of high-occupancy vehicle lanes on I-85 to Old Peachtree Road and construction of HOV lanes on Ga. 316 to Herrington Road.

The DOT will host a public hearing on Feb. 16 on a separate project to extend the HOV lanes further down Ga. 316 to the Progress Center. The meeting will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Gwinnett Center on Sugarloaf Parkway.