The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) on Nov. 17 announced the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Interstate 85 Phase 2 widening project in Jackson County.
Work has already commenced to expand I-85 from two to three lanes in both directions east of Braselton from Georgia State Road 53 to just north of U.S. Highway 129. The project is a part of the Major Mobility Investment Program (MMIP), the largest investment in roadway mobility improvements in the Georgia's history.
This work extends the widening already completed on I-85 in June through the first phase of the project, which provided relief to motorists in the heavily congested area from I-985 to SR 53 in Gwinnett, Barrow, and Jackson counties.
"I'm excited to see what this project, as well as the entire MMIP, brings to benefit our region and the state of Georgia," said State Transportation Board Vice Chairman Emily Dunn, who represents the 9th Congressional District.
"At the end of the day, we all share a common duty to the people of Georgia, and we look forward to improving the quality of our transportation system for years to come."
In addition to widening I-85 from two to three lanes, the project will include replacing one overpass bridge and six mainline bridges along I-85, all of which are more than 50 years old.
Construction officially began in October with paving activities, and heavier construction is anticipated to begin in early 2021.
The project currently is scheduled to complete in 2023.
"As Jackson County continues to grow, the widening of I-85 through this area has become a necessity," said GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry. "This corridor is utilized for both freight and residential travel, and the I-85 Widening, Phase 2 project will provide significant relief."
The state transportation agency is utilizing an innovative delivery method through Design-Build, which accelerates construction and reduces construction times, minimizes travel impacts as much as possible, and maximizes the use of resources and the project budget.
"We are excited to continue the work the department started with the first phase of widening on I-85," said GDOT Project Manager Albert (Butch) Welch.
"We look forward to working with the C.W. Matthews team again to deliver these much-needed improvements to enhance mobility north of Atlanta."
A veteran contracting company, C.W. Matthews is based in Marietta, Ga.
Jackson County is northeast of Atlanta and, with a population of more than 70,000 people, it is continuing to grow both residentially and commercially. With four interchanges on I-85 within the county and two more at its eastern and western borders, Jackson offers mobility advantages to both new and current occupants.
"It's great that we are able to add this capacity with the new I-85 widening," said Jannine Miller, state planning director of the GDOT. "The improvements this project will bring will provide more certainty and reliability in the delivery of cargo and will allow those in the freight industry to perform their jobs more efficiently."
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