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I-85 widening to begin soon

LAWRENCEVILLE - A $10 million "quick-fix" to Interstate 85 could begin soon, after the Georgia Department of Transportation announced a contract Friday.

In the project, crews will construct an additional lane of I-85 northbound between Interstate 985 and Ga. Highway 20, freeing a 2.2-mile bottleneck to the Mall of Georgia.

Gwinnett company E.R. Snell Contractor Inc. was awarded the project and is expected to be completed by the end of April.

Last year, Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope said the idea of a quick fix came from a legislative study to consider letting people driving on the shoulders of heavily congested interstates.

While officials decided against driving on shoulders, the study revealed that little work would be needed to create a clear pathway from the I-985 split to Ga. Highway 20.

"There is definitely the need, and it can be done simply, just by adding an outside lane," Pope said last year. "That is a bottleneck daily."

The announcement came as part of a list of $135 million in projects that were approved by the state agency this month. Included is the $31.5 million project to reconstruct U.S. Highway 78 from Stone Mountain to Snellville. That contract was awarded to C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., and the construction is expected to be completed by May 31, 2011.