Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Crews of Rogers Bridge Co. Inc. construct a bridge at the intersection of SR 316 and Collins Hill Road in Lawrenceville Wednesday. According to the Gwinnett County government website, "The $37.4 million construction project includes 2.23 miles of new roadway and two new bridges over SR 316. The project completion date is December 31, 2014."
LAWRENCEVILLE -- After a little more than year of work, the project to transform one of Gwinnett's busiest intersections is more than one-third complete.
Since November 2011, crews from G.P.'s Enterprises have been working to convert a stretch of the often-congested Ga. Highway 316 to a thorough-fare, with the intersections at Ga. Highway 20 and Collins Hill Road converting from traffic lights to grade-separated interchanges.
Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope said the project is on track for completion by the end of 2014.
Now that drivers have been moved to temporary lanes on Ga. 20 and Collins Hill, the work is keying up on the bridges, with the job about half complete on the Collins Hill Bridge and crews just beginning on the Ga. 20 one.
But first, traffic will have to shift again.
"The construction of the long ramps (that will) run parallel to 316 to take traffic from 316 to Collins Hill or 20 are progressing. Once they are finished (State Route) 316 traffic will move to those ramps, two lanes in each direction so that 316 can be lowered," Pope explained. "To get enough room for the new SR 20 bridge, 316 mainline must be lowered about 20 feet. Traffic can't use the lanes while the grade is changed that much so it will use the ramps temporarily."
Pope said the use of temporary lanes is helping keep the traffic flow, although the DOT is encouraging people to use alternate routes. But the construction is still taking a toll on Gwinnett drivers.
Georgia Gwinnett College President Dan Kaufman said recently that students and staffers are making the best of the situation, using a new road to avoid the intersection as much as possible.
"We ... constantly remind ourselves how much better the grade separated interchange will be and that it is worth the current inconvenience," Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said, giving praise to the DOT for keeping drivers informed via signage. "However, there will continue to be issues with traffic congestion and the impact the construction has on an already challenging traffic area.
"One way I cope myself is to simply avoid travelling the affected section of SR 316. Sugarloaf Parkway is a great alternate route around Lawrenceville. Even if it is a little longer in distance than SR 316, it can shave considerable time and aggravation from the trip," she said of the newly extended road.
"Above all, the new interchange should improve safety for motorists on SR316 and those crossing it," Nash added. "Beyond that, I enjoy visualizing moving along SR316 without having to stop for a traffic signal at SR20. What a time saver that should be."