Georgia State Patrol troopers who have been operating out of leased space since 2013 will soon have a new facility.

Local elected officials, members of law enforcement, contractors and engineers celebrated the “groundbreaking” of a roughly $5 million Georgia State Patrol facility that will serve as a command post for 16 troopers and a HERO Unit along the Interstate 85 corridor in Suwanee.

Construction has already started on the new facility, which could open in early 2020. The new facility is approximately 10,800 square feet and will have space for storage, classrooms and dorms for troopers.

“I’ve seen their (temporary) facilities on Plaster Avenue, and it’s been a great holding place for the time being, but this will be a much better spot,” Georgia State Patrol Public Information Officer Stephanie Stallings said. “One of the big words we heard today was teamwork, and that’s exactly what this is. There was huge teamwork today between the Gwinnett County commissioners — we’re so thankful for them to see the project through as well as DOT — and for us to be on board and to get the benefits of this building will be fantastic for Post 51-Gwinnett.”

The Gwinnett County Commission approved the contract for the project, which was awarded to Carroll Daniel Construction, in February this year. Precision Planning was the firm in charge of designing the project.

The new facility is located near the merger between I-985 and I-85. The post includes access to I-85 northbound lanes. The need for a facility in the north section of the county along I-85 dates back to nearly a decade ago, with the Georgia Open Roads Policy.

In 2011, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety endorsed the policy, which intended to expedite the movement of damaged vehicles, cargo and debris in order to restore a safe flow of traffic. Other states have adopted similar policies since, taking into consideration the economic costs of traffic jams and how quickly they can be exacerbated.

Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough said the average speed of vehicles has increased since the policy was adopted, showing that the concept is working. The new post will shorten response times for troopers in northern Gwinnett County, thus shortening the amount of time an accident on a major highway results in a traffic jam.

“We can’t be more thrilled to have a facility such as this at this location,” McDonough said. “A picture is worth 1,000 words. If you’re going to build a place for troopers to work the interstate, that’s a big duh, isn’t it?”

McDonough thanked members of the Department of Public Safety, Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway, DOT Vice Chairman Rudy Bowen and Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash.

“Those are the folks that didn’t take no for an answer, and that’s why we’re here today,” McDonough said.

Georgia State Patrol has operated out of a temporary facility in Gwinnett County near Pleasant Hill Road since 2013.

“State patrol has been patient,” Nash said. “They’ve been in temporary facilities that were never designed to serve the needs of a state patrol post, but they made it work.”