Gwinnett County will pay to build a new $5.8 million facility that it hopes will keep the Georgia State Patrol in town for the next half-century.
The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution and intergovernmental agreement that will allow it to build the new home of GSP Post 51 on the site of an abandoned rest stop near the I-85/I-985 split in Suwanee. The property will remain owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which also plans to base a 10-truck fleet of its HERO roadside assistance vehicles at the facility.
Such an arrangement is not unusual, county officials said. Local governments often subsidize parts of the state patrol’s expenses in exchange for them keeping local stretches of highway safer.
The state patrol opened a Gwinnett post in 2013 and the agency’s beefed up local presence has been “beneficial,” county spokesman Joe Sorenson said. The current Post 51, though, is in part of a former Edwin Watts Golf Shop on Pleasant Hill Road. The other half of the building is a store called Furniture Way Less.
“It’ll be a huge upgrade to what we’re working with now,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Kustra, Post 51’s commander.
Under the agreement, the Georgia State Patrol will enter into a 50-year lease with DOT for use of the property.
Sorenson said Gwinnett plans to pay for the facility’s estimated $5.8 million price tag — a number that includes design and furnishings — using county capital project funds.
“We knew that if we wanted to ensure that the unit continued to operate from a location in Gwinnett we would need to provide a permanent use facility that includes barracks,” Sorenson said. “It is common for local governments to assist with State Patrol facilities for units located within their boundaries.”
A potential timeline for the project was unclear.
“The additional public safety presence on the interstates and major roads, as well as having HERO units operating from the new facility, will continue to help safety and response in the future,” Sorenson said.
Before taking over the AJC's morning newsletter, Tyler Estep worked as a reporter covering DeKalb County, its government and its people. A Gwinnett County native and University of Georgia graduate, he has been with the AJC since 2015. He previously covered his home county and served stints on the paper's hyperlocal and breaking news teams.