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Traffic is expected to worsen

LAWRENCEVILLE - This week will be a typical week in terms of construction for the interchange of Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 316, but transportation officials are already predicting a traffic nightmare after a construction holiday over the long Independence Day weekend.

To wrap things up before the holiday, the Georgia Department of Transportation has scheduled lane closures for every day this week on the reconstruction project of the I- 85/Ga. 316 interchange.

If weather permits, the inside lane of I-85 northbound will be closed from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Pleasant Hill Road to Ga. 316.

DOT District Engineer Russell McMurry said the closure will allow crews to pour concrete that will become the caps of the new Old Norcross Road bridge over the interstate.

The closures are planned for Monday through Friday, and if the work goes as planned, blasting will begin again this week.

The schedule is to begin Wednesday with a blast between noon and 1 p.m., McMurry said.

If blasting occurs, traffic will be stopped on the interstate for about 10 minutes as the blast occurs. I-85 northbound traffic will be stopped at Steve Reynolds Boulevard and I-85 southbound traffic will be stopped at Ga. 316. Traffic on Old Norcross Road will also be stopped by off-duty law enforcement officers.

If the preparations aren't completed, the blasting won't occur until sometime after the Fourth of July holiday, McMurry said.

Crews will take a break beginning at 9 p.m. Friday until July 5 to stay out of the way of Independence Day travelers.

But McMurry is already warning about a possible traffic nightmare on July 9.

That day, contractors are planning to impose multiple lane closures on I-85 southbound from just south of Duluth Highway to just north of Pleasant Hill Road. The closures will be in effect from about 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and extremely heavy congestion is expected.

McMurry said he wanted to get the information out early so drivers can plan another route that day.

To keep up to date on the construction schedule and lane closures, check the DOT's Web site at www.georgianavigator.com.