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Extra interstate lane near mall to open Saturday

LAWRENCEVILLE - Not only will the route to Gwinnett Place Mall get clearer this weekend, but a construction project near the Mall of Georgia will also reach a milestone.

Officials said the new lane on Interstate 85 north between Interstate 985 and Ga. Highway 20 will open this weekend, if weather permits.

Work was planned for every night this week on the 2.23 mile project, which will cost about $10.4 million.

"The good news of great joy is that Saturday morning the new lane will open for you to use," Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

The construction plan announced earlier this week was to begin at 9 p.m. Friday night. The outside lane of I-85 will be closed until about midnight, and then the inside lane will close. If the work is completed as scheduled, the new lane will open Saturday morning.

But the project isn't expected to be wrapped up until April.

"There will be lane closures for some punch list work later, after the New Year," Pope said. "The new lane was added to the outside of I-85 northbound and will be an exit only lane to State Route 20. Currently on I-85 north, you must merge left because the outside lane stops just north of the I-985 split. We are going to extend that outside lane that currently ends and it will become an exit only lane to (Ga.) 20. This should help with congestion in the area when it's finished."