A new Ga. Highway 20 bridge, which will eventually allow to travel over Ga. Highway 316, is expected to open Saturday, May 10, if weather permits. (Staff photo: Camie Young)
The opening of a new bridge next week for Ga. Highway 20 at Ga. 316 will mean a major milestone for Lawrenceville traffic.
While crews are still a year away from completion of the transformation of the intersection into an interchange, the new bridge is on schedule to open next Saturday, if weather permits.
At 10 lanes wide, with three lanes in each direction and dual left turn lanes to each direction of Ga. 316, the bridge should provide immediate traffic relief in the center of Lawrenceville, officials said.
“We are opening the new bridge over the weekend so motorists can get accustomed to the change outside of the peak travel times,” said Harold Mull, district construction engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “Once traffic is shifted to the new (Ga.) 20 bridge then crews can begin lowering the last section of (Ga.) 316.”
The $37.4 million project, which began two years ago, will create an interchange along Ga. 316 — which is grade-separated at its threshold near Interstate 85 — with both Collins Hill Road and Ga. 20, with collector-distributor lanes connecting the two roads.
“We chose to lower (Ga.) 316 by 20 feet instead of building the (Ga.) 20 bridge 20 feet higher,” Mull said of creating the bridge. “That saved us time and money by minimizing the footprint of the new bridge structure.
We have two priorities this summer; lowering (Ga.) 316 and opening the Collins Hill Bridge over (Ga.) 316,” he added. “After 316 is lowered, traffic can be returned to the through lanes of 316. This will allow only traffic wanting to access (Ga.) 20 to use the ramps to (Ga.) 20. Our goal is to open the Collins Hill Bridge before the Fall semester begins at Georgia Gwinnett College. Please slow down and use extra caution as everyone gets used to this change.”
For the bridge opening next weekend, crews plan to begin the transition from the existing roadway at 9 p.m. Friday night, with lane closures overnight until 8 a.m. Saturday morning. As the bridge opens, new traffic signals at Ga. 20 and Reynolds Drive will become operational, a press release noted.
“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 explained. “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.”
The project, being constructed by GP’s Enterprises of Auburn, is set for completion by summer 2016, which much of the interchange work expected to be complete by summer 2015.