Jimmy Carter & I85 New Diverging Diamond Interchange

Jimmy Carter & I85 New Diverging Diamond Interchange

Whenever we get outside of our Hamilton Mill "bubble" and travel toward Atlanta, we can always expect a traffic mess at I85 & Jimmy Carter Blvd.  Gwinnett County Department of Transportation just opened a new bridge - the Diverging Diamond Interchange - over I85 at Jimmy Carter to help alleviate the "mess".

On Monday morning, rush hour drivers zigged and zagged their way across the Jimmy Carter Boulevard bridge at Interstate 85 in a sort of organized ballet of cars and trucks.  Monday was the first true test for new diverging diamond interchange designed to speed up the commute in Gwinnett County.   It opened late Sunday on Jimmy Carter Boulevard at Interstate 85.

For several days, police are stationed at both ends of the interchange in case drivers get confused.   The diamond shifts traffic to the opposite sides of the bridge over I-85 in Norcross. Engineers say it makes left turns onto the interstate easier, speeds up traffic and causes less congestion.   Some drivers say there's a bit of a learning curve as they get used to it but they say it's worth the effort if it'll cut down on traffic.
The major work drivers can expect to see in the coming months is the completion of pedestrian walkway in the middle of the bridge, the repaving and re-striping of the roadway and the installation of decorative lighting on the bridge. Chapman said Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District will pay for landscaping in and around the bridge as well.  But while there is still work to be done on the interchange, it’s already getting some thumbs up from travelers.

Drivers who use the overpass frequently said they are optimistic that the new interchange will end up serving as a welcome relief for congestion on and near the bridge. Through the new format, drivers who need to turn left onto I-85 can veer in that direction as they drive across the bridge without having to wait at a light or tying up other lanes.  However, some drivers said the traffic was even worse than before.  “Coming north on 85 on Jimmy Carter, that new interchange, we had to wait five cycles before we could get through that light, so it’s a mess right now,”  said driver Charles Thomas.

 A representative with the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation said they expect the flow of traffic to improve with time.

“I think once drivers adjust to it, we make some signal timing adjustments, it will perform even better” said Alan Chapman with the Gwinnett DOT.

The multimillion-dollar project opened after months of construction, which was delayed due to a failed inspection of some bolts, between the bridge and the structure that hangs over I-85.

The Georgia Department of Transportation says the new diamond will cut drive time by half.

Now we can hope for a new bridge at Hamilton Mill to help alleviate our ever growing traffic!

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