Downtown Connector construction to close lanes again

Closures begin this weekend and will continue for 10 weeks

Here we go again.

The Downtown Connector was re-paved just last summer, it’s true. But the state Department of Transportation has more in store.

This weekend, drivers can get an early taste of the next couple of months’ lane closures, as DOT shuts down three lanes of northbound I-75 near the Brookwood Merge. They will be closed from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

That closure will allow road crews to work on a ramp that goes from the Connector at 14th Street to the 17th Street Bridge. But for about 10 weekends after that, crews will be repaving another piece of the Connector.

Last summer, hundreds of thousands of sports fans, weekend event goers, crosstown travelers and many others sat in epic weekend traffic jams throughout the hottest months as crews ground up the Connector and laid new asphalt.

But the 2008 project only went from University Ave. up to 10th Street. The stretch from 10th Street to the Brookwood Merge was left untouched because any repaving would have interfered with the 14th Street Bridge project. Now the bridge contractor, C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., will also pave that northern stretch from 10th Street to the merge, where I-75 and I-85 split near 17th Street.

This weekend, the only way for drivers to get from the Connector to I-75 northbound will be on the single HOV lane. Count on I-85 to be jam-packed as well, with usual traffic plus confused would-be I-75 travelers trying to get off the highway.

DOT expects to release its lane closure schedule week by week.

“We’ll just plow through it,” DOT spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said.

The bridge should open later this year.