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I-985 widening could start as soon as 2022
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Work to widen Interstate 985 to six lanes could start as early as 2022, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The project, estimated at $81 million, could run from Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County to Mundy Mill Road, or Exit 16, in Oakwood.

“I think this widening is needed in light of our region’s projected population and employment growth,” said Sam Baker, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall County area’s lead transportation planning agency.

“Perhaps extending the project terminus all the way to (Exit 24) should be studied during the scoping phase,” he added.

Jesse Jewell Parkway/Ga. 369 crosses I-985 at Exit 24 and becomes Old Cornelia Highway, which leads to East Hall.

The MPO has a grading system for major traffic arteries, with “A” being free flow of traffic and “F” meaning “extreme congestion.”

Baker said the stretch of I-985 from Ga. 347, or Exit 8, to Exit 24 is regarded as a ‘D.’

“The level of service is projected to decline to ‘F’ on this corridor in year 2040 if nothing is done (to improve it),” he said.

DOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said the DOT is “still getting environmental approvals” on the widening.

“Survey work is also happening,” she added. “The plan would be to widen both directions to the inside.”

The DOT would bid out the project much like it did the Interstate 85 Express Lane project or the widening of Ga. 400 in that the “contractor would be able to tell us how far they can get with the money that we allot for the funding,” Strickland said.

Also, the department is considering the work as a “design-build” project, meaning the same company designing the work would build it, she said.

A $178 million project calls for extending the toll-based Express Lane up Interstate 85 from just north of Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road in Gwinnett.

That work calls for a new bridge, as the I-85 northbound Express Lane will cross over the Interstate 985 northbound ramp, and replacement of the I-85 southbound bridge over I-985.

I-985 also is set for construction of a new interchange at Martin Road in South Hall.

A contract was awarded Aug. 4 to G.P.’s Enterprises of Auburn for the $34 million project. Completion of the diamond interchange is set for August 2019.

The interchange, commonly referred to as Exit 14, will connect Martin Road at Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.

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