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Eyes on the Road: HOT lanes extension calls for new bridge at I-985
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A new bridge will be built over Interstate 985 as part of the planned HOT lanes extension on Interstate 85 from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road in Gwinnett County, a 10-mile stretch that skirts past I-985.

“Express Lanes bridges are just bridges with a specified use, nothing special about their design or construction,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Two such bridges are part of the current Express Lanes on I-85 between Old Peachtree Road and Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County — one at Ga. 316 east and I-85 north and one at Ga. 316 west and I-85 south.

Express Lanes enable drivers who have a “Peach Pass” sticker, or transponder, fixed to their windshield to travel without the congestion of other lanes but for a toll based on the level of traffic snarl.

Fees are waived for those driving motorcycles, alternative-fuel cars with proper license plates and vehicles carrying three or more people.

The state opened Express Lanes, or high occupancy toll lanes, in October 2011

The DOT is developing the Express Lane extension “in an effort to provide commuters with a more reliable, free-flow commute option that will complement the state’s multi-modal approach to managing traffic demand,” according to an agency fact sheet.

Unlike the existing HOT Lanes on I-85, the Express Lanes from Old Peachtree to Hamilton Mill Road will involve building new lanes, rather than converting existing high occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes.

“This will add new capacity to the corridor while providing options for reliable trip times,” states the DOT.

Public hearings on the project are set for 4-7 p.m. March 21 at the Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth; and 4-7 p.m. March 28 at the Braselton Police and Municipal Court Building.

The DOT considered extending HOT lanes up to Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway, which leads to Hall County, but “travel volumes drop significantly north of Hamilton Mill,” Pope said.

DOT maintenance work includes drain inspection

Here’s a brief look at maintenance projects taking place this week in area counties:

• Banks: A crew will inspect underground drainage structures for Ga. 15/U.S. 441.

• Habersham: A crew is adding rubberized asphalt to Ga. 255, work that will require a lane closure in the work zone.

A bridge crew will be repairing the joints on the Ga. 15 bridges over Panther Creek, with one lane closed as crews work, and work is planned on both northbound and southbound bridges.

Also, litter pickup is planned on Ga. 365.

• Dawson: Mowers will be out on Ga. 53 west.

• Forsyth: Workers will patch damaged asphalt on Ga. 306 and Ga. 9, requiring a single lane closure through the work zone. Also, litter pickup is planned on Ga. 400.

• Hall: Workers will clean and repair ditches along Ga. 52 and Ga. 11, patch damaged asphalt on Ga. 369, Ga. 53 Connector, Ga. 332 and Ga. 211. The patching work will require lane closures. Also, litter pickup is planned for Ga. 365.

• Lumpkin: A crew will inspect underground drainage structures along Ga. 19, then clean and restore ditches.

• White: A crew will inspect drainage pipes along and under Ga. 11/U.S. 129, then clean and restore ditches.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: