Holiday break for I-85/316

LAWRENCEVILLE - Drivers across Gwinnett will have something else to be thankful for this holiday season.

After lane closures over the next several days, the Georgia Department of Transportation has promised to keep construction at Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 316 out of the way until next year.

"Hallelujah," proclaimed Shelley Korenbrot at the news. Korenbrot is the director of mall marketing for Gwinnett Place Mall, which is just a couple of miles away from the $150 million interchange reconstruction.

"We're looking forward to all the changes that are taking place, but it's going to be great having them out of the way for the holidays because of how crowded it's going to be," she said. "It's going to be a great holiday season."

According to DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope, work will continue to occur through the holidays outside the existing lanes of traffic. In fact, the schedule is to complete 80 percent of the project without lane closures.

Starting tonight, crews will be working on the southbound exit ramp from I-85 to Pleasant Hill Road. To do so, they will close at 9 p.m. the left lane of the ramp and the outside westbound lane of Pleasant Hill over I-85. The lane will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday.

"Crews have run into more rock along the southbound side of the interstate just north of the Old Norcross Road Bridge. We must blast again to remove that rock," Pope said.

The schedule is to shut down I-85 and Ga. 316 for about 10 minutes sometime between 12:30 and 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

"These are the only lane closures planned for next week and the last lane closures of this year," she said. "In the contract for this project no lane closures are allowed from the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22 until Jan. 2, 2007. These limitations were put in place to ensure your mobility during the holiday season.

"There are major retail shopping outlets adjacent to the project and DOT engineers determined it is in everyone's best interest to be out of the way between Thanksgiving and New Years Day."