I-85 Express Lanes Extension in north Gwinnett opens to traffic today

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$178 Million Project Adds 10 Miles to Existing Corridor in Gwinnett County

The newly constructed 8-18 Express Lanes Extension in north Gwinnett opens to traffic today, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.  This extension connects with the existing express lanes that begin at Chamblee-Tucker Road in Dekalb County. The project adds 10 miles of dedicated express lanes from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road that run alongside general purpose lanes throughout the corridor. Along with the existing express lanes, the extension creates a 26-mile express lane network into Georgia’s northeast region.

“We’re excited to open this extension of the I-85 Express Lanes that will not only provide an additional choice for motorists that can reduce their travel times in the corridor but will also enhance the region’s transportation infrastructure,” Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. said in a press release. “Users of existing express lanes projects in Georgia, including the existing section of the I-85 Express Lanes, are telling us that using the lanes gives them time back in their day. This extension adds to our growing network of express lanes, which helps create a more connected metro Atlanta.”

According to officials, the I-85 Express Lanes provide a reliable travel option along one of the state’s most heavily populated areas. The lanes are engineered to ease congestion to and from Atlanta during the heaviest traffic hours, offering consistent trip times for commuters. The lanes are HOT lanes, free to vehicles with three or more passengers, and allow transit and registered vanpool customers to travel in the lanes toll-free.

In addition to the express lanes construction, a third general purpose lane was constructed to allow drivers a safe way to merge into traffic while also preventing bottlenecks caused by drivers attempting to enter and exit the interstate. Another mobility-improving future enhancement for the corridor will include a new interchange at the northern terminus of the extension, SR 324.

Drivers traveling northbound can currently access the express lanes extension at four locations, while southbound drivers can access at six locations beginning at Hamilton Mill Road, the northern terminus.

The system features dynamic pricing, with rates rising as demand increases. The minimum rate is $0.10 per mile. During periods of very low demand, per mile toll rates on an express lane facility may be replaced with a fixed toll of $0.50 per trip, regardless of the length of the trip. Through dynamic pricing, rates will adjust based on demand and traffic conditions to maintain traffic flow through the lanes. Drivers will see the price before the express lane entrance and be able to choose whether they want to pay to bypass congestion for more reliable trips times.

Vehicles with no more than two axles or up to six wheels may use the express lanes with a valid Peach Pass or a pre-paid toll account in Florida or North Carolina. Public transit buses, registered vanpools, and emergency response vehicles may use the lanes toll-free with a valid Peach Pass. All other vehicles, including motorcycles and electric vehicles, are required to pay a toll to use the express lanes.

To open a Peach Pass account, visit SRTA’s website at PeachPass.com.

“We are excited to add the I-85 Express Lanes Extension to our suite of express lanes in metro Atlanta,” Chris Tomlinson, SRTA Executive Director, said in the release. “Our Georgia Express Lanes offer drivers the advantage of more reliable trip times and valuable mobility options. The express lanes also benefit riders of our Xpress commuter coach service. We believe that our focus on multiple mobility options – tolling and transit – are key to enhancing the effectiveness of all of our state’s mobility resources.”

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