New Ridgewalk Interchange: ‘A long time coming’
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
November 30, 2012 12:37 AM | 2336 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City of Woodstock celebrated the opening of the new Ridgewalk Interchange with a ribbon-cutting on Thursday morning. Above: From left are, Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques, Former Woodstock Mayor William G. Long, Georgia DOT Board Member Brandon Beach, Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock), County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and County Commissioner Jim Hubbard.
The City of Woodstock celebrated the opening of the new Ridgewalk Interchange with a ribbon-cutting on Thursday morning. Above: From left are, Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques, Former Woodstock Mayor William G. Long, Georgia DOT Board Member Brandon Beach, Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock), County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens and County Commissioner Jim Hubbard.
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WOODSTOCK — After taking a rain check earlier this week, local and state officials had nothing but sunny skies Thursday morning to celebrate the opening of the Ridgewalk Interchange on Interstate 575.

The event, originally planned for Tuesday but rescheduled due to rain, drew out about 50 attendees to the northbound entrance ramp of Exit 9.

During the roadside dedication and ribbon cutting, onlookers had a full view of nearby construction on the 370,000-square-foot Outlet Shoppes of Atlanta slated to open next summer.

The diamond-shaped interchange opened to the public just two weeks ago, making the design-build project over a month ahead of its Dec. 31 completion date and also within its $17 million budget.

Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques said the road project is a long time coming, as the first correspondence regarding the interchange dates back to 1976.

“To say it’s a long time coming is an understatement,” Henriques said

Henriques thanked everyone in attendance and recognized all stakeholders, including city council, staff and residents.

“Boy, are we happy this thing’s open,” Henriques said.

Brandon Beach, Georgia Department of Transportation District 6 board member, recognized the project as a “true partnership” between GDOT, the county and the city.

“We love to help with jobs and creation of jobs and getting people, goods and services moving through your county so we are very pleased to have this road open,” Beach said.

Beach also presented a road sign dedicating the interchange to former Woodstock Mayor and City Council member Bill Long.

“In the transportation world, projects like this don’t happen without vision and leadership. It takes a champion to build a project like this,” Beach said of Long’s decades-long efforts to make the interchange possible.

Long, who was first elected to Woodstock City Council in 1988 and resigned in 2006, said he appreciated the recognition.

“Most of all I appreciate the way it’s going to help Woodstock and help the traffic situation around here,” Long said.

Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-Woodstock) said it was a “thrill” to see the interchange finally happen, especially as one of her last acts as a legislator. Byrd was unseated for her District 20 position by Michael Caldwell during the Republican primary.

“It’s exciting,” Byrd said. “This is government at its finest, at its best. We often talk about government not doing its proper role. Well, today it is because state and local governments work together for the betterment of our community, which is a great thing.”

Both Byrd and County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens noted the economic boost the interchange will bring to the city and surrounding areas.

“Truly, from an economic development standpoint, this is terrific,” Ahrens said.

A contract for the project was awarded by GDOT in 2010 to Marietta-based C. W. Matthews for $17.1 million to include the construction of the interchange, replacing the bridge over I-575, realigning Rope Mill Road to intersect with Ridgewalk Parkway and building auxiliary lanes between the new interchange and Towne Lake Parkway.

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