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Eyes on the Road: New salt barn off I-985 ready for this winter
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The Georgia Department of Transportation has wrapped up work on what should be another weapon in its wintry weather arsenal — a “salt barn” off Interstate 985 between Oakwood and Flowery Branch.

Plans call for the DOT to fill the building with salt in the fall, district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

The state decided to put up salt barns across the state as part of a response to snowstorms that crippled traffic in and around Atlanta in the winter of 2013-14.

Work on the I-985 project started in the fall with crews clearing a stand of trees and grading property.

But the covered structures — similar in style to a Quonset hut — were contracted out in two rounds based on priority, with the second group including the I-985 site, Pope said.

The first group included one off Ga. 53 in Braselton.

“The rest across the state are under construction now,” Pope said. “All will be ready well ahead of 2015-16 winter weather.”

The I-985 salt barn is in an area where the Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau had operated a visitors center for 14 years.

Also, to shore up winter response in Gainesville-based District 1, the DOT acquired two new “tow plows,” which are able to clear two lanes at a time. The $280,000 plows arrived Jan. 22.

And the district more than doubled its stockpile of materials, including 12,000 tons of salt, 12,000 tons of gravel and 15,000 gallons of brine in storage tanks at three different locations.

Peach Pass program signup set to end Thursday

Registration ends Thursday for a program that allows Peach Pass-carrying commuters to earn toll credits.

As an incentive to ride Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Xpress buses or Gwinnett County Transit, commuters can earn up to $60 in credits over six months.

The Peach Pass is a device that automatically deducts tolls when commuters use the Interstate 85 Express Lanes between Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett and Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County.

GRTA and Gwinnett County Transit have teamed up with the State Road and Tollway Authority for the program.

The eligible Xpress routes are Sugarloaf Mills to Lindbergh MARTA Station, Hamilton Mill/Mall of Georgia to Midtown, Sugarloaf Mills to Midtown, Hamilton Mill to downtown Atlanta and Dacula to downtown Atlanta.

The eligible Gwinnett County Transit routes are I-985/Ga. 20 Park and Ride in Buford to downtown Atlanta, I-85 Indian Trail Park and Ride to downtown Atlanta and I-85/Sugarloaf Mills Park and Ride to downtown Atlanta.

To sign up, visit

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