After 4th of July Pause, Summer Highway Construction To Resume

GAINESVILLE – With summer underway, the Georgia Department of Transportation is advising motorists they should plan ahead to avoid overheated radiators (and tempers) – especially those who anticipate travelling weekends on Interstate 285 on the west side of Metropolitan Atlanta or the 70+-mile stretch of Interstate 20 between Carroll and Newton counties.

First, a holiday travelers’ reprieve – no construction-related lane closures on interstates between Noon, this Thursday, July 3, and 5 a.m., next Monday, July 7.

Then some back-ups likely begin…

Northeast Georgia has 29 active construction projects that require lane closures impacting travel. Projects in Gwinnett, Forsyth and Hall will slow access to Lake Lanier this summer. The biggest impact to accessing Lake Lanier is State Route 284/Clark’s Bridge Road bridge replacement project at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue in Gainesville. Currently, a detour is in place allowing access to the boat ramps, beach and parking from SR 284 northbound. Traffic traveling SR 284 south from Clermont cannot access the recreation facilities or parking because a pedestrian tunnel is under construction. The detour is scheduled to open July 26, 2014. (Detailed information on the detour and Northeast Georgia Construction projects is attached.)

Metro Atlanta has a major reconstruction of WestSide I-285 and several projects on I-20 will require multiple lane closures throughout weekends and some single-lane weekday and weeknight closures as well.  Significant delays, especially on weekends, are virtually inevitable.

“Quite honestly, it won’t be pleasant,” Georgia DOT State Construction Engineer Marc Mastronardi concedes, “especially on the WestSide where I-285 and I-20 share so much long-haul truck traffic.  We really implore everyone – Atlantans, out-of-state truckers and motorists simply passing through – to plan ahead by utilizing our free-call 511 phone system and the 511 website:  You’ll get real-time road conditions and your forethought and planning likely will save you hours.”

On I-285, contractors are replacing and repairing deteriorated concrete slabs in both directions on more than 17 miles, roughly between Paces Ferry Road and Camp Creek Parkway.  Work began last weekend and will continue all of this year and well into 2015.  Throughout, continuous multiple-lane closures on weekends are likely.  (As this is concrete work, the Department also advises that there will be times when lanes are closed but no workers are present; this is necessary so that the new concrete can “cure,” a process wherein it hardens into a driving surface that will last for many years.)

In a separate WestSide Perimeter project, the I-285 interchange with Atlanta Road is being rebuilt.  That work is scheduled to continue for three years with periodic localized lane closures on both the Interstate and busy Atlanta Road.

Add to that ongoing multiple lane closures, both eastbound and westbound, on weekends throughout much of the rest of this year for an I-20 resurfacing project between Douglasville and Villa Rica.

Compounding the impact on WestSide traffic later this summer will be much-needed replacement of failing bridge joints (and the “headers” that connect the joints to the bridge surface)  in both directions on each of the 16 I-20 bridges/overpasses between the Downtown Connector and the Chattahoochee River.  Beginning perhaps as soon as August and continuing through next spring; it likely will require double-

lane closures throughout weekends and single-lane closures on weeknights in the vicinity of each structure as it is repaired.

WestSide I-285 carries some 165,000 vehicles every day; I-20 on the WestSide 150,000 inside and 105,000 outside the Perimeter.  Thousands of those vehicles are tractor trailers.

Travel on EastSide I-20 will be no picnic this summer, either.  Resurfacing between Conyers and Covington – the corridor’s first resurfacing in 26 years – will require periodic multiple lane closures on weekends for much of the remainder of the year and I-20 bridge reconstruction at the Alcovy River further east in Newton County will require weekday closures this summer of one of two travel lanes in either direction.  Within the Perimeter in Fulton and DeKalb counties, I-20 restriping efforts will continue through mid-summer requiring multiple lane closures in both directions on weekend nights, although work will be timed so as not to affect Atlanta Braves game traffic.

“I can’t over-emphasize the importance of planning ahead and looking for alternative routes when planning weekend travel this summer, especially on the WestSide,” Mastronardi says.  “We realize summer weekends may seem to some like a bad time for us to undertake this work.  But we have to take advantage of the warm summer days and nights and weekday traffic is much, much heavier.

“We apologize for the inconveniences but these preventative activities we undertake in summer months will save taxpayers millions of dollars over the long term in avoided major reconstruction costs.”

Interstate Highway System travelers can get construction and traffic information at the State’s Welcome Centers which offer both free maps and access to real-time information on construction or accident-related delays and lane closures.

As always, motorists are urged to obey speed limits in general and in particular in work zones; avoid distractions; not make unnecessary lane changes; allow extra distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead in work zones; never drive while impaired; and always exercise caution.

The following are some of the Department’s other potentially “motorist impactful” construction jobs underway or beginning this summer, as well as the relevant Georgia DOT media contacts:  

Northeast Georgia(additional information on these projects is attached)

  • Intersection improvements at State Route  316 with both SR 20 & Collins Hill Road in Gwinnett County;
  • Widening of SR 347 from McEver Road  in Buford to State Route 211 in Braselton both east and west bound  in Hall County (2 projects);
  • State Route 20 widening projects in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties; and
  • Construction of a pedestrian tunnel on State Route 284/Clarks Bridge Road in Hall County (a detour of this route will be in place until July 26).
  • (NOTE:  The SR 347 widening and the SR 284 tunnel projects will impact traffic to and from Lake Lanier Islands.)

(District Communications Officer [DCO] Teri Pope – 770.718. 3924)

Metropolitan Atlanta:

  • Roadway improvements and (City of Atlanta) water and sewer line replacement on Northside Drive between Interstate 75 and Collier Road (beginning in July);
  • Construction of the new “Skip Spann Connector” overpass above I-75 in northwest Cobb County; and
  • Reconstruction of the Georgia 400 interchange at Northridge Road in Fulton.
  • Ongoing demolition of remaining Georgia 400 toll plaza structures and subsequent shifting of traffic into permanent lane configuration.
  • Replacement of Spring Street Viaduct in downtown Atlanta; to begin in September.

(Dept. Spokesperson Natalie Dale – 404.631.1814) 

Northwest Georgia:

  • Reconstruction of I-75 interchanges at State Route 156/Redbud Road and at Union Grove Road in Gordon County and also at U.S. Highway 41 in Whitfield County;
  • Widening State Route 136 in Gordon;
  • Widening State Route 20 in Bartow County; and
  • Bridge rehabilitation on U.S. Highway 411 in Murray County (through July).

(DCO Mohamed Arafa – 770.387.4081)

East Central Georgia:

  • Resurfacing Interstate 16 in Laurens and Treutlen counties;
  • I-20 bridge reconstruction in Newton County;
  • Widening Interstate 520 in Richmond County;
  • Widenings of Windsor Springs Road, Wrightsboro Road and State Route 56 in Richmond;
  • Widenings of State Route 232/Columbia Road and Old Petersburg Road/Old Evans Road in Columbia County;
  • Bridge replacements on State Route 47 and State Route 232 in Columbia; and
  • Fall Line Freeway construction in Washington and Baldwin counties.

(DCO Cissy McNure – 478.552.4656) 

West Central Georgia:

  • I-75 restriping activities in Bibb, Crawford and Peach;
  • I-75 interchange reconstruction at Jodeco Road in Henry County;
  • Interstate 16 interchange reconstruction at State Route 96 in Jones County;
  • Pipeline work near Interstate 85 in Coweta County (through August); and
  • Intersection improvements at State Route 155 and Kellytown Road in Henry.

(DCO Kimberly Larson – 706.646.7532) 

South & Southwest Georgia:

  • US Highway 84/State Route 38/West Hill Avenue  railroad overpass construction in Valdosta/Lowndes County;
  • Reconfiguration of State Route 3/Liberty Expressway interchange with North Jefferson Street in Dougherty County;
  • Widening of U.S. Highway 319/State Route 35 in Colquitt and Tift counties;
  • Widening of Carpenter Road in Tift;
  • Resurfacing U.S. Highway 41/State Route 7 in Tift;
  • I-75 at Brighton Road interchange reconstruction in Tift; and
  • Drainage improvements on State Route 39 in Seminole County.

(DCO Nita Birmingham – 229.391.5463) 

Southeast Georgia:

  • Interstate 95 and State Route 99 interchange reconstruction in Glynn County;
  • Interchange construction at State Route 204/Abercorn Street and King George Boulevard in Chatham County; and
  • Resurfacing U.S. Highway 84/State Route 38 in Pierce County.

(DCO Jill Nagel – 912.427. 5743)

Trail of Tears Meeting at New Echota

The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will be held on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 10:30 AM in the Council House at New Echota State Historic Site near Calhoun, GA. The speaker will be Dr. Jack T. Wynn. Dr. Wynn is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. He is also advisor to the Blue Ridge Archaeology Guild. He will speak about the native peoples of north Georgia, from prehistory to time of contact.

By the early 19th century, the Cherokee Nation had developed a government similar to that of the United States. During the fall of 1819, the Cherokee Council began holding their annual meetings in Newtown in present-day Gordon County. On November 12, 1825, the council passed a resolution making Newtown the Nation’s capital and changing the name to New Echota in honor of Chota, a beloved Cherokee town that was located in present-day Tennessee.

A major development in the Cherokee culture occurred when a mixed-blood Cherokee named Sequoyah invented a written language. Although he had no formal education, he worked 12 years to isolate and assign a symbol to each syllable in the Cherokee language. This enabled the Cherokees to begin printing their own newspaper called the Cherokee Phoenix. A reconstructed print shop and replica of the printing press are located at New Echota.

On December 29, 1835 the Treaty of New Echota was signed unlawfully by a small group of leaders of the Cherokee Nation. The treaty ceded all the Cherokee lands east of the Mississippi River for lands in present-day Oklahoma and Arkansas. Although the treaty was contested by most Cherokees, it was approved by a one vote margin in the U. S. Congress. In May of 1836, President Andrew Jackson signed it into law, giving the Cherokee two years to vacate their land. Most Cherokees refused to leave. Beginning in May of 1838, these Cherokees were rounded up and forced to begin their journey west. This became known as the “Trail of Tears” because of the widespread suffering and death. Some signers of the Treaty were later assassinated because of their involvement in selling Cherokee land.

Following the removal of the Indians, the town of New Echota disappeared and all buildings except one destroyed. In the 1950s the state of Georgia began excavations to determine the location of the original buildings and roads. In addition to the surviving home of Rev. Samuel Worcester, a missionary who had lived in New Echota since 1827, several of the destroyed buildings have been reconstructed and other buildings from that time period have been moved to New Echota. These include Vann’s Tavern, the Supreme Court House and a common Cherokee homestead.

The Trail of Tears Association was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. The TOTA is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the Southeast. The Association consists of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory.

Our meetings are free and open to the public. You need not have Native American ancestry to attend our meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this fascinating and tragic period in our country’s history. For more information about the TOTA, visit the National TOTA website at and the Georgia Chapter website at For more information about the July meeting, contact Leslie Thomas at

To reach New Echota, take I-75 to Exit 317. New Echota is a mile east on Ga. Hwy. 225. The entrance to the site is on the right side of the highway. Their telephone number is 706/624-1321. Please plan to attend and show your support for one of Georgia’s most treasured and threatened resources.

GDOL to co-sponsor career expo in Ringgold

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) and two local organizations will co-sponsor a career expo Wednesday, July 23, in Ringgold. The expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the gymnasium at Ringgold High School, 29 Tiger Train. Other sponsors include the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce and the city of Ringgold’s Downtown Development Authority.

The expo will feature more than 50 employers looking to fill vacant positions in the fields of manufacturing, truck drivers, security guards, metal fabricators, CAD designer, maintenance technicians, welders, retail, outside sales, clerical, healthcare, and social services. Applicants should bring plenty of resumes, be prepared to fill out company applications, and interview on-site for available job openings.

Attendees are encouraged to dress business casual to improve their opportunities for employment.

Employers expected to participate in the expo include: Bi-Lo, Aflac, Holiday Inn, Paxton Family Chiropractic, Bethel University, Propex, Roper Corporation, Victory Signs, Structural Employment Economic Development Corporation, Express Employment Professionals, Lowe’s, Georgia Northwestern Technical College, and Chattanooga Allergy Clinic.

For more information about the expo, contact For employers wanting to register, contact Cathy Toles at the GDOL’s Lafayette Career Center at (404) 274-8687 or e-mail

To learn more about career opportunities, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which can be conveniently accessed at