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The new interchange at Interstate 85 and Gravel Springs Road is shown in this aerial image from Google Maps. The interchange is set to open to drivers on Tuesday morning.

As long as Mother Nature cooperates, residents of northwest Gwinnett will have a new place to get on and off Interstate 85 in the Buford area starting on Tuesday.

Gwinnett County and state transportation officials plan — weather permitting — to open the new interchange at I-85 and Gravel Springs Road this week. The long talked about interchange is expected to relieve traffic at the nearby Buford Drive exit, where the Mall of Georgia and the Exchange at Gwinnett are located.

“I know many drivers have been watching the progress with interest and eagerly anticipating when the new interchange would open,” Commissioner Marlene Fosque said. “I’m happy to say that time has come thanks to a great partnership between our transportation department and the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve mobility for our residents.”

The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation in 2019 to handle funding for the interchange’s construction, but officials had been talking about for years prior to that. The project was funded with a mix of local, state and federal funding.

County officials paid for the engineer and right of way acquisition costs with funding from the 2014 special purpose local option sales tax while Georgia DOT secured a $20 million federal grant to cover the cost of building the interchange and handling inspections.

The interchange includes four new ramps from Gravel Springs Road to handling people entering and exiting I-85. It also includes turn lanes and traffic signals, sound barriers and retaining walls. New traffic striping and overhead signs were recently installed along the interstate.

Despite the opening being planned for Tuesday, county officials are warning residents to expect some traffic delays to occur around the new exit as additional work that will cause temporary lane closures will be taking place to finish up the interchange. All work on the interchange is expected to be completed sometime in mid-2022.

“County transportation staff remind motorists to slow down when approaching a work zone: Allow extra distance between vehicles, read signs, obey road crew flaggers and help keep you and construction crews safe,” county officials said in an announcement.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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