I-75's Jonesboro Road exit to close temporarily

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Anyone who wants to go to Southlake Mall, or Clayton State University in Morrow this weekend should avoid the stretch of Georgia Hwy. 54 (also known as Jonesboro Road) that crosses Interstate 75, said Morrow City Manager Jeff Eady.

Eady explained that the Georgia Department of Transportation will close the exit and entrance ramps at Exit 233, which is the Jonesboro Road exit, at 9 p.m., on Friday.

Access to the street, from the interstate, will remain closed until 5 a.m., on Monday. On top of the ramp closures, he said, traffic on Jonesboro Road will be reduced, at times, to just one lane for all of the traffic to use during the weekend.

These steps are being taken to prepare to open a new overpass bridge and interstate exit and entrance ramps on Monday, the city manager said.

"You want to avoid the area," Eady said. "It's one of the downfalls of construction on an interstate system, but we'll survive it, and as time goes on, we'll be better for it."

During this upcoming weekend, drivers who wish to go to places in Morrow that are located near Exit 233, will have to use either the Mt. Zion Boulevard exit (Exit 231), or the Old Dixie Highway exit (Exit 235), according to a Georgia Department of Transportation news release.

Construction work at Exit 233 has been taking place for months, and a news release from GDOT shows the work is scheduled to continue until sometime in "late spring of 2012." Eady said the project is costing approximately $50 million.

The work is needed, according to GDOT, because traffic on Jonesboro Road, at that intersection, is expected to increase 33 percent 2027. The department's news release shows that nearly 60,000 vehicles currently use the road, at that intersection, on a daily basis.

"Improvements today will accommodate growth expected in the next 20 years," the department's new release states.

The traffic headaches are just beginning, however, for anyone who drives through Morrow on Jonesboro Road.

Eady explained that Monday will not just bring the opening of new exit and entrance ramps, and a new overpass bridge, at Exit 233. It will bring the closure of the existing ramps and the existing overpass bridge and rail road bridge at the exit, effective at 5 a.m., on Monday, as construction at the exit continues.

Traffic on Jonesboro Road will be shifted to a new overpass bridge that is just north of the existing bridge, and drivers will be able to take advantage of a new Lee Street bridge, just a few feet south of the rail road bridge at Exit 233, to get across the Interstate, according to Eady.

Additional lanes for the new bridge still have to be built where the existing bridge is located, and a new rail road bridge has to be built.

"It's just shifting from the old, to the new [and], then tearing down the old and building the new, and then shifting the lanes back [to their original positions]," Eady said. "They've got to get traffic off the existing [overpass] bridge before we can demo [demolish] the existing bridge."

The next phase of construction will see the Georgia Department of Transportation remove the existing Jonesboro Road overpass bridge, and rail road bridge, to be replaced with new bridges, according to Eady.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced that the rightmost lanes of northbound, and southbound I-75 will be closed for this weekend only.

Department officials are recommending drivers be mindful of the construction work, and use caution near Exit 233.

"It is important for motorists to use caution when traveling through the work zone," according to the department's news release. "Signs will be posted, alerting drivers of the work zone area. Please note that speed limits in a work zone are reduced and enforced. Fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone."