by: Richard Elliot Updated:GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —
State transportation officials want to extend toll lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.
The Georgia Department of Transportation will hold two public hearings next month to present its plans to extend the Peach Pass HOT lanes on I-85 north an additional 10 miles from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road.
"The design work proposal is under way that would pick up the express lane currently ends at Old Peachtree," said GDOT spokesperson Teri Pope. "The great thing about this project is that it’s new construction. We'll be adding that express lane. It will not take away any existing capacity. In fact, it will add capacity to the interstate."
Pope believes the project could begin in fiscal year 2014 and be completed sometime during 2017. She also said the project will occur only after the proposed I-75/I-575 express lane project.
Sarah Chrysler lives off Highway 20 at I-85. She's not looking forward to more construction, but believes the plan could help congestion.
"I think it'll be good, but traffic in this area is already really bad," said Chrysler. "So it's going to back up even more, and it's going to be crazy, but in the long run, I think it'll be good."
Gwinnett County resident Dwayne Anderson isn't so sure. He thinks more lanes will clog up just as quickly as existing lanes. He also thinks paying for road construction and HOT lanes is like paying for the same project twice.
"I understand the need for it," said Anderson. "But I do not like the fact that we're paying for something that we've already paid for."
The first public hearing will be held March 21 at 4 p.m. at the Gwinnett Center Atrium on Sugarloaf Parkway. The second will be March 28 at 4 p.m. at the Braselton Community Room in the Police Municipal Court Building on Highway 53.