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Avoid I-20 eastbound this weekend
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State transportation officials are warning residents avoid portions of Interstate 20 this weekend if possible, unless they want to face the possibility of very long delays.

WHY? - Lane closures
While I-20 westbound heading to Atlanta will be free of construction from Newton County to I-285, any travelers making the return trip east back home will want to exit I-20 well before reaching exit 82 in Conyers, the State Route 138 exit.

The two left lanes on I-20 will be closed between exit 82 (Ga. Hwy 138) and exit 88 (Almon Road) starting from 9 p.m. Friday all the way through the weekend until 5 a.m. Monday for milling of the existing pavement and repaving.

What's the effect? - Bad backups and delays
Last weekend, crews had two westbound lanes closed, and drivers sometimes sat in traffic backed up 3-4 miles, said Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) spokesman Mark McKinnon.

Multiple residents said they sat in clogged traffic during construction.

Possible alternate routes
The most direct alternate routes to get to back to Newton County from Atlanta are

- Old Covington Highway on the northern side of I-20 - though that turns into Almon Road, so you may want to avoid the Almon Road interchange

- and Iris Drive/Frontage Road/Access Road on the south side of I-20. You can pick these up beginning at The Mall at Stonecrest by taking Mall Parkway around the mall which turns into Iris Drive SW. You can also pick up Iris Drive at the Sigman Road exit (exit 78).

Both roads run near the interstate, so they may also get backed up with traffic. Drivers should be prepared to seek alternate routes further from the interstate.

GDOT encourages drivers to dial 511 from any phone to receive real-time traffic conditions at any time of day or night, McKinnon said.

Other interstate closures
- In the Atlanta city limits, three right westbound lanes on I-20 will be closed each night from 8 p.m. overnight until 5 a.m. between Capitol Avenue and Windsor for restriping.

- Also inside the perimeter, on I-20 westbound in DeKalb County, the exit and entrance ramps between Candler Road and Glenwood Avenue will be closed at various times during the overnight hours Saturday for restriping.
- Finally, west of Atlanta, one right lane will be closed in both directions on I-20 between Liberty Road and State Route 5 in Douglas County from 9 p.m. Friday throughout the weekend until 5 a.m. Monday for asphalt patching and bridge joint repairs.

GDOT is asking NASCAR fans traveling to and from Talladega for the race this weekend to seek alternate routes, such as State Route 92 and State Route 8 on the north side of I-20 and State Route 166 and State Route 61 south of I-20.

Rationale for closures
"There is never a ‘good' time to work on the interstates in metro Atlanta, but (GDOT) has determined that less people are affected if the work is done primarily at night and on weekends," McKinnon said in a press release.

"Also, more work is scheduled from late spring through early fall while school is out and when nighttime temperatures stay above 50 degrees, the ideal conditions for placing pavement that is more durable and will last longer."

"We understand that it is a huge inconvenience for motorists to have to deal with interstate lane closures every weekend during the summer, but I hope they understand that in order for us to be able to maintain our roads and bridges, we have to be out there every good-weather weekend we can during the paving season," said GDOT District Construction Engineer Shun Pringle. "So please plan those alternate routes and save yourself some time and grief."