NORCROSS -- For three decades, two massive water towers along Interstate 85 have signaled that Davida Baker is nearly home.
"It just feels good," to see the familiar relics after long trips, a signal that her Old Norcross-Tucker area home is not far away. "It was always the landmark that meant you were almost home."
When she first moved to the area in 1978, the towers were often a blur, as she traveled down the interstate. But for the past decade or so, she and her neighbors would clock traffic by how long it would take to reach the water towers from a nearby exit.
"That was the landmark and everyone knew it and used it in their own way," she said.
For days, now, she has watched the construction workers dismantle the 35-year-old towers, one panel at a time.
"It's with mixed feelings I see it coming down," she said. "It was not aesthetically beautiful but ... I don't know how I'm going to recognize my exit anymore."
The tanks -- famous for their slogans "Gwinnett is Great" and "Success Lives Here" -- once held a total of 2 million gallons of water and helped maintain water pressure for the area. But upgrades to a Norcross water pump station and a new 24-inch water main connecting the distribution system in the area meant the tanks were no longer needed, a press release said.
"With the recent improvements to our water system and the need to reduce operating costs in our facilities, it makes good sense to retire the water tanks," Chairman Charles Bannister said. "Even after the tanks are gone, we will still be able to say that Gwinnett is great and success lives here."
With an upkeep of $100,000 a year on several no longer needed pump stations and tanks, officials decided to demolish the structures. Commissioners approved $149,000 earlier this year to demolish the famous Goshen Springs tanks along with another four structures.
"While some people may miss seeing the water tanks along I-85, taking them down will save the citizens money," County Administrator Glenn Stephens said. "We expect to save $100,000 in annual operating costs and about the same in annual capital costs on all the structures combined, which means we'll recoup the dismantling cost in less than a year."
According to county officials, the demolishing of the tanks will take about three to four weeks, and the materials will be shredded and then shipped to a smelting facility to be melted for recycling.
If you don't commute down I-85 every day, you can keep up with the demolition at www.constructioncam.com/tristar/index.htm.