Ten new miles of I-85 toll lanes are coming to Gwinnett County, but local drivers shouldn't fret too much.
This time around, they're adding north- and southbound lanes — not converting existing ones.
State transportation officials broke ground Wednesday on the $178 million project, which will extend the existing HOT (or high occupancy toll) lanes from Old Peachtree Road past the Mall of Georgia to Hamilton Mill Road.
"The new I-85 Express Lanes Extension will improve traffic flow and increase mobility options for people who travel the area, including motorists, transit and registered vanpool customers," Georgia Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Mike Dover said in a news release. "This project addresses one of the region's most congested commuter corridors."
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In addition to the new express lanes, work will include building "auxiliary" lanes at Ga. 20 northbound and Gravel Springs Road and at Ga. 20 southbound and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road. An express lane bridge will be built at the northbound interchange of I-85 and I-985 as well.
The project is expected to be completed by summer 2018. Work will take place during non-peak hours.
The existing I-85 HOT lanes opened in 2011 and run 16 miles from northern Gwinnett to DeKalb County. Their construction rankled many commuters who either didn't want to pay or were upset they replaced the already-existing HOV lanes.
Watch an informational video provided by GDOT below: