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Exit 14 on I-985 is open — mostly
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Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, left, and Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville unveil the new Exit 14 sign Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2019, during a dedication ceremony in Flowery Branch. The exit is now named Atlanta Falcons Training Facility Interchange. - photo by Scott Rogers

Update, Sept. 3: 

Exit 14 is now open, for the most part.

After years of planning and construction, the Interstate 985 interchange between Oakwood and Flowery Branch in South Hall opened Tuesday morning after a ceremony recognizing the roadway as the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility Interchange.

The Falcons headquarters and training camp off Falcons Parkway at Hog Mountain Road is less than a mile from Exit 14 at Martin Road.

“This is a great day for the Falcons and a great day for Hall County,” state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said at the Sept. 3 ceremony.

Falcons officials and cheerleaders, along with Hall County government officials and legislators, attended the event on the Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 side of the interchange.

“I can assure you the 10,000-plus people we have coming to training camp every year are going to like Exit 14,” said Rich McKay, the Falcons’ president and CEO. “It’s going to make your traffic flow — and the people of Flowery Branch — probably a little happier.”

Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller said “the impact the Falcons make on this community … is priceless. The Falcons players and organization gives so much to our community.”

Also, state Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, read a General Assembly resolution naming the interchange after the Falcons.

With the exit’s opening, “traffic will move so much smoother, and we look for future growth in Hall County,” he said.

After officials spoke and cut a red ribbon, ceremony attendees became the inaugural drivers on the northbound exit ramp.

All the ramps are operational, but the interchange won’t be fully functional until completion of the overpass — which Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer Brandon Kirby said could be in a couple of months or less.

When it is finished, the $34 million interchange will connect Martin Road at Falcon Parkway on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.

The overpass appeared finished earlier this year, spanning I-985 while the rest of the interchange project was taking shape. But then, three of the driving surface’s four spans failed strength tests.

A redo of the spans started in May and was expected to last 12 weeks, so there was hope the work could be finished by Saturday, Aug. 31 — the deadline in contractor G.P.’s Enterprises’ contract.

“I think the demo technique is slow and really just boils down to man hours and equipment, and just taking the time,” Kirby has said. “There’s only a couple of different methods to try to get the bridge deck off and none of them are fast.”


Previous story:

Motorists who have spent the past couple of years pumping the brakes going through Exit 14’s construction zone will soon be able to enter the new Interstate 985 interchange.

Except for the overpass spanning I-985, drivers will be able to exit the interstate straddling Flowery Branch and Oakwood on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

An official ribbon-cutting designating Exit 14 as the new Atlanta Falcons Training Facility Interchange is set for 10:45 a.m. Tuesday. The Falcons headquarters and training camp off Falcons Parkway at Hog Mountain Road is less than a mile from Exit 14 at Martin Road.

“This gives back to (the Falcons) a little bit for what they have given us,” said Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Gillsville, who is scheduled to speak at the ceremony, set to start at 10:30 a.m.

Also scheduled to speak is Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller.

The $34 million interchange will eventually connect Martin Road at Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.

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Traffic moves along Thurmon Tanner Parkway Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, at H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway where construction of the I-985 Exit 14 is nearing and end. Opening and dedication ceremony of the new interchange is scheduled for Tuesday. - photo by Scott Rogers

The overpass appeared finished earlier this year, spanning I-985 while the rest of the interchange project was taking shape. But then, three of the driving surface’s four spans failed strength tests.

A redo of the spans started in May and was expected to last 12 weeks, so there was hope the work could be finished by Saturday, Aug. 31 — the deadline in contractor G.P.’s Enterprises’ contract.

Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer Brandon Kirby said earlier this month the deadline wouldn’t be met and he didn’t have a date for when the bridge would open.

“I think the demo technique is slow and really just boils down to man hours and equipment, and just taking the time,” Kirby has said. “There’s only a couple of different methods to try to get the bridge deck off and none of them are fast.”

He said Friday, Aug. 30, “We’re still approximately a couple of months away from (the bridge’s completion) and we will update periodically as … an opening date comes into the picture.”

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