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I-85 HOT Lanes Change More Than Access Rules for Suwanee Commuters

New entry points on I-85 South leave six-mile gap between Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road and Beaver Ruin road without an entry.

The conversion of the existing HOV lanes on I-85 to toll lanes is almost complete.  But there are more changes than the access rules for many commuters. Gwinnett residents may have noticed the recent restriping of access points to the lane. Designated access and exit points are marked with a dashed double white line. 

For the upcoming HOT lanes, the access and exit points are in different locations for northbound and southbound traffic.  According to Teri Pope, Communications Officer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, the access points are:

I-85 northbound HOT lane access points:

ENTER the HOT lanes at:                                

  • South of Chamblee Tucker Road;     
  • North of Dawson Boulevard overpass;
  • North of Center Way overpass;
  • South of SR 378/Beaver Ruin Road;
  • SR 316

    EXIT the HOT lanes at:

  • SR 140/Jimmy Carter Boulevard
  • SR 378 – Indian Trail Road, Beaver Ruin Road.
  • SR 120/Duluth Highway – Steve Reynolds Boulevard – Pleasant Hill Road– Boggs Road.
  • SR 316
  • Sugarloaf Parkway – Old Peachtree Road.
  • South of SR 317/Lawrenceville Suwanee Road.

 I-85 southbound HOT lane access points:

    ENTER the HOT lanes at:

  • South of SR 317/Lawrenceville Suwanee Road.
  • North of SR 378/Beaver Ruin Road.
  • South of Indian Trail Road.
  • South of SR 140/Jimmy Carter Boulevard.

    EXIT the HOT lanes at:

  • Indian Trail – Lilburn Road.
  • SR 140/Jimmy Carter Boulevard.
  • Pleasantdale Road – I-285
  • Chamblee Tucker Road.

The new entry points on I-85 South leave a six-mile gap between the Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road start point and Beaver Ruin without access to the lane. Suwanee, Duluth, and Lawrenceville residents that enter I-85 at Old Peachtree, Sugarloaf, 120 and Boggs Road must navigate through a stretch of heavy traffic before having access to the HOT lane.

According to Jill Goldberg, Deputy Press Secretary for the Georgia Department of Transportation,  “The original intent of and concept developed for the CRD (Congestion Relief Demonstration) project was to help move traffic through some of the more congested areas along the I-85 North corridor.  Studies have shown that this can be done by limiting access to the lane in an effort to reduce merging in and out, which slows down traffic flow.

"Key points were considered along the route, and the most effective locations were chosen for allowing access and exiting the lanes.  Many factors were taken into consideration, including the distance between interchanges, the locations where new signage could be added, the ability to place new tolling technology along the route, and several other design issues.  Ultimately, the decision to place entrance and exit points to the Express Lanes resulted from analysis of the information gathered being used in the best manner to meet the goal of the lanes – reduce congestion by keeping the lane flowing more freely."

This also affects commuters and bus riders using the park-and-ride lot at Sugarloaf Parkway. With the previous HOV lanes, commuters could enter the southbound lanes just north of Pleasant Hill Road.

William Mecke, Chief Public Relations Officer for the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, said, “We are aware of the distance that will exist between the Sugarloaf Parkway and Highway 120 ramps onto I-85 and the next available entrance to the HOT lanes when the conversion is completed. Because of the potential difficulty of the merge and the distance before the entrance we are exploring alternative routings from Discover Mills Mall to I-85 and the HOT lanes, including traveling south on Sugarloaf Parkway to GA 316 and entering the I-85 HOT lanes from 316.”

The HOT lanes are scheduled to open later this summer. Commuters can get information on how to access the toll lanes at PeachPass.com.

leroy June 13, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Thank you for the article; it boggles my mind that the DOT would just discard a huge segment of commuters who routinely entered the HOV lane just south of Old Peachtree and toss them into the bottleneck at the 316 merge. Not sure what study they did, however, I’m certain they should reconsider the large area of commuters you mentioned and make an accommodation other than traveling over six miles in congestion.
Chandra June 13, 2011 at 08:29 PM
I concur. This is mind boggling. First the incredible decision they took to increase the eligibility from 2 riders to 3 riders. Now this. How do we stop this from taking into effect. If this goes into effect we may have to resort to the passive resistance of stopping our cars and blocking the HOT lane right near pleasant hill road until they change their ways.
Chrissy Magnesi June 13, 2011 at 11:30 PM
If the original goal of the HOT lane "was to help move traffic through some of the more congested areas along the I-85 North corridor.", then this project will fail miserably. It's simply pushing people out of the HOV lane and into the already overcrowded 'normal' lanes. They will be able to keep the HOT lane "flowing more freely" because you can't get into for six miles! That just makes no sense! How can they raise revenue when there's a huge six-mile gap without an entry point?!
leroy June 15, 2011 at 10:04 PM
I agree with both of you; Mr. Williams you stated that they were pretty much dead set on pushing forward, how do we start a grass roots campaign and try and dissuade them from the current plan. At the very least they should move the entry point further South below Old Peachtree so that car and van poolers can gain access prior to 316.

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