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Collins Hill bridge to open this weekend | VIDEO

Crews are expected to open the Collins Hill Road bridge over Ga. Highway 316 in Lawrenceville Friday, as part of a milestone in the Ga. 316/Ga. 20 interchange project. Georgia DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope explains the milestone.


A sign on Collins Hill Road in Lawrenceville informs drivers that a new bridge will open Friday to take traffic over Ga. Highway 316. (Staff photo: Camie Young)

A sign on Collins Hill Road in Lawrenceville informs drivers that a new bridge will open Friday to take traffic over Ga. Highway 316. (Staff photo: Camie Young)

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Collins Hill Road bridge opening

Crews are expected to open the Collins Hill Road bridge over Ga. Highway 316 in Lawrenceville Friday, as part of a milestone in the Ga. 316/Ga. 20 interchange project. Georgia DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope explains the milestone.

Crews are expected to open the Collins Hill Road bridge over Ga. Highway 316 in Lawrenceville Friday, as part of a milestone in the Ga. 316/Ga. 20 interchange project. Georgia DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope explains the milestone.

The commute to college will get a little smoother this weekend with a new bridge opening to carry Collins Hill Road traffic over Ga. Highway 316.

Construction crews will open the bridge overnight Friday, a milestone in the three-year construction program to unclog Ga. 316’s busiest intersections, including Ga. Highway 20.

“We built it one piece at a time and open each section as it is ready. As we finish a new piece of the interchange, we open it to traffic and then can work in the area traffic was previously using,” said Harold Mull, a district construction engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We are opening one lane of the new bridge in each direction this weekend so motorists can get accustomed to the change outside of the peak travel times.”

The bridge — which opens about six weeks after crews opened a bridge to take Ga. 20 traffic over Ga. 316 — is 361 feet long and 94 feet wide with two lanes in each direction. As a major route to Georgia Gwinnett College, officials also designed the bridge with sidewalks and bike lanes to allow students to walk or bike to classes.

“We appreciate the work of the Georgia Department of Transportation in making these transportation improvements,” said Renee Byrd-Lewis, Georgia Gwinnett College’s vice president for advancement. “With the college’s continued growth, we are focused on ensuring better access to services and activities in the area. We look forward to the improved traffic flow around the campus.”

While Ga. 316’s exit ramps to Collins Hill will also open Friday, crews will have additional work to complete the entrance ramps, meaning drivers will have to take a detour to get on to Ga. 316 from that location.

Drivers will also have a different route to reach neighboring businesses NTB, Lawrenceville Yamaha Honda and Luxury Landscape Supply. Beginning Friday, the businesses can be accessed on Park Access Drive.

The entrance from Collins Hill to Ga. 316 westbound will be open by Monday morning’s rush hour, spokeswoman Teri Pope said, while the entrance ramp for Ga. 316 eastbound will take about a month to complete.

By July 20, crews with GP’s Enterprises of Auburn expect to fully open the bridge — adding the second lane in each direction — as well as the ramps, which will eventually connect to the Ga. 20 ramps in a collector-distributor system.

“This project will build one interchange or exit to allow traffic from State Route 316 to access State Route 20 or to access Collins Hill Road using a system of long ramps,” Mull said. “The existing signalized intersections at State Route 20 and at Collins Hill Road will be removed as the interchange is finished. It is similar to the system we have along I-85 from SR 120 down to Pleasant Hill Road. You get off the mainline of I-85 south at SR 120 and use the parallel roads to access the exit you need.”

Pope said much of the work on the $27.4 million project will be complete this fall, as crews have made good progress in carrying the mainline of Ga. 316 under the new Ga. 20 bridge since it opened in May. Additional work on gas pipelines will extend the final completion date to May 2016, she added.