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Motorists Turn Out Early in Suwanee for McGinnis Ferry/I-85 Opening

'A neat experience' for a Suwanee visitor to cross the new bridge early.

It was like a Black Friday special or buying concert tickets.

Motorists began lining up about 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Super H store in Suwanee. Of course, they wanted to be the first to traverse the new bridge over I-85.

"It was a neat experience," said Wade Meadows of Opelika, Ala., who is visiting friends in Gwinnett. He was clued in by a member of the Snell family, which has connections with E.R. Snell, the construction company that handled the $20.4 million project.

Engineers from the Georgia Department of Transportation began the opening process about 10 a.m. by checking the new traffic signal at the Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road/McGinnis Ferry Road intersection. Then traffic moved on to the signal at McGinnis Ferry/Old Peachtree, near the bridge.

Then, about 10:45 a.m., the procession began.

"I thought, what better way to spend a Tuesday morning," said Stark Beard, a Sugar Hill resident who works in Lawrenceville. He got a tip from a friend about the bridge opening. "It was a blast."

The project, which extends McGinnis Ferry Road for 2.67 miles, has been in the planning stages since the early part of the past decade. The construction began in 2009 and was handled entirely with federal stimulus funds. Gwinnett SPLOST funds were used in the design phase.

The extension provides a type of bypass for motorists seeking to avoid the I-85/Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road exit. Motorists can reach Gwinco Boulevard, Old Peachtree Road and Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road south of the interstate via the new road.

"I travel a lot at night, and I spend so much time on Hurricane Shoals Road and Old Peachtree (Road)," Beard said. "Now I'll be taking the easy way home."

Also, the north side of the new overpass was built as a multi-use walk/trail for cyclists, runners and walkers. It coordinates with the Suwanee Greenway.

Some work on other roads remains on the overall project, which is expected to be completed in September.

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