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Athens Highway/U.S. 129 traffic could switch to new lanes in January
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By late January, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation, Athens Highway motorists will switch over to new lanes between A.L. Mangum Road and the Jackson County line as the widening of Athens Highway continues on schedule for an April 2020 completion. - photo by Scott Rogers

Athens Highway/U.S. 129 motorists could switch over to new lanes between A.L. Mangum Road and the Jackson County line by late January, as part of the widening of the road to four lanes.

“The shift should be a smooth transition when it takes place,” Georgia Department of Transportation district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said.

The DOT will need to close Blackstock Road “after we shift traffic to the newly constructed roadway, to allow for the reconstruction and alignment,” she added. “But that detour/closure will be less than a month.”

The improvement will mark the first movement of traffic to new pavement on the 7-mile project to widen U.S. 129 from Gillsville Highway/Ga. 323 in East Hall to Talmo in Jackson County.

Heavy grading has otherwise taken place along the project, giving shape to the four-lane road’s route.

Also under construction is a bridge over Allen Creek, south of Pond Fork Church Road in Jackson.

Crews have set six beams, with final beams scheduled to be set on Jan. 4, Strickland said.

Hall County officials have said the project is especially important for safety reasons — it will straighten out dangerous curves — and will help commercial truck traffic, as U.S. 129 runs from Interstate 985 in Hall to Interstate 85 in Jackson.

The road follows a mostly rural route with scattered businesses and homes. Hall County’s Sugar Hill Elementary School is off U.S. 129.

It’s particularly popular in the fall, with traffic flowing to University of Georgia football games.

The $44.1 million project began in 2016 and has an April 2020 completion date.

“The project is on schedule,” Strickland said.

Pittman Construction Co. of Conyers is the project’s contractor.

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