Today's weather should be nearly perfect for the city of Woodstock to hold its ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the Ridgewalk Parkway interchange on Interstate 575.

The ceremony, which was originally slated to be held on Tuesday, will start at 10 a.m. today. Parking will be available along Rope Mill Road near Olde Rope Mill Park and at the VCC Construction's office area along Woodstock Parkway and Ridgewalk Parkway.

The design-build project officially wrapped up on Nov. 16, about six weeks ahead of its Dec. 31 completion date. The project also was completed on budget.

Along with building a diamond-shaped interchange, crews also replaced the Ridgewalk Parkway bridge over the interstate, realigned Rope Mill Road to intersect with Ridgewalk Parkway and installed auxiliary lanes between the new interchange and the Towne Lake Parkway northbound entrance and southbound exit ramps.

The new interchange is labeled exit 9 and is a little less than one mile south of the Sixes Road interchange.

Woodstock City Manager Jeff Moon said city staff has received a few phone calls inquiring about the lack of traffic signals when cars come to the exit ramps' intersection with Ridgewalk Parkway.

He noted GDOT is responsible for the installation of the signals as the interchange was a state project.

"Red lights are part of the Ridgewalk widening project that will be done in conjunction with the relocation of Woodstock Parkway and the Horizons project," he added. 

GDOT Spokesperson Mohamed Arafa said "projected volumes (at the interchange) did not warrant signals."

Arafa added that when traffic patterns change, which is expected to happen when the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta completes construction next year, GDOT will expect to receive requests to perform a Traffic Engineering study.

The studies measure traffic conditions, traffic volumes, pedestrian characteristics, physical characteristics of the roadway and will include the engineer's reccommendations on the specific area.

To garner approval, the study must demonstrate that "a traffic signal will improve the safety and operations of the intersection." 

City officials believe the new interchange will provide much-needed traffic relief on both Towne Lake Parkway and Sixes Road.

Moon said the city hasn't tracked the number of cars using the interchange since it's a state highway, but added GDOT officials believe the new interchange could reduce traffic at the Towne Lake Parkway interchange by 30 percent. 

GDOT in 2010 awarded a $17.1 million contract to C.W. Matthews to perform the interchange construction with a deadline to complete the project by Dec. 31, 2012. 

The project's completion comes ahead of the highly anticipated Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta's opening in August 2013.

The 370,000 square foot facility will have more than 80 retail outlets, including stores such as Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers, Levis, Talbots and Carters, among other stores.

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