By Johnny Jackson
Construction and repair work on major highways in Henry and Clayton counties will come to a halt this weekend, to accommodate an expected holiday-travel rush.
The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to suspend construction-related lane closures on all interstates and major state routes, beginning at 5 a.m,. Friday, July 2, and continuing until 5 a.m., Tuesday, July 6, according to Kimberly Larson, a spokeswoman for the DOT's District 3, which covers Henry County. "We suspend all projects for the Fourth of July weekend," she added.
Construction has been ongoing this week at the Jonesboro Road/Ga. Highway 54 overpass at I-75, in Clayton County, and maintenance work also was done on Georgia Navigator cameras along I-75, near Hudson Bridge Road, in Henry County. That work required one lane in both directions to be closed temporarily during the day.
Larson said that, eventhough, the DOT is suspending roadwork, motorists should still plan ahead for heavy traffic throughout the holiday weekend -- and be patient. She suggested that they call Georgia 511,( by dialing 5-1-1) and check for current road conditions, "because, as most people know, this is one of the busiest travel weekends for summer vacations."
AAA Auto Club South projects an estimated 31.4 million Americans will take to the roadways this weekend, traveling to holiday destinations. Georgia is projected to see more than 800,000 travelers on its roads. "We expect traffic on Thursday evening to start picking up," said Mark McKinnon, spokesman for Georgia DOT's District 7, which covers Clayton County.
McKinnon said the state department plans to clear as many lanes as possible to aid the flow of traffic along the interstates. "We do not allow any additional lane closures during the holiday weekend," he said. "Four lanes will be open in each direction along I-75 [in Clayton County]."
Officials expect high volume areas in metro Atlanta will include, but are not limited to: I-75/85 southbound (Downtown Connector); I-285 on the top end; State Route 400 in both directions; I-85 in Gwinnett County; I-75 in Cobb County; and I-75 southbound in Clayton and Henry counties.
"Traffic congestion on Thursday and Friday will be heavier than normal, with rush hour beginning as early as 1 p.m., in high-volume areas," said Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance Smith, Jr. "We anticipate that with Independence Day falling on Sunday, there will be numerous people extending the weekend. Monday could also be very busy, with people returning from the long holiday, combined with [the] regular rush hour."
To learn about current road conditions, visit www.georgia-navigator.com. For free real-time traffic information, dial 511, or 1-877-MYGA511, or visit www.511ga.org.