Ronald Reagan Parkway

First envisioned by then Gwinnett County chairman Wayne Mason, the Ronald Reagan Parkway was completed as a county project in the mid-1990's. Mason had developmental interests in the eastern part of Gwinnett County and planned to build a shopping mall in the area. A hurdle to his plans was the lack of direct access to Interstate 85. So he spearheaded the idea for a freeway between Pleasant Hill Road and Georgia 124 (Scenic Highway).1

Wayne Mason was later voted out of office and his mall never realized. However his short freeway idea was constructed. The freeway does not have a direct connection with Interstate 85 at present. Though discussion has arisen to build the missing link, wetlands and a substantial reduction in funds for the project have ultimately halted any progress for the roadway. Nevertheless the Ronald Reagan Parkway joins three other freeways in the state of Georgia with the distinction as county maintained facilities. This is a practice becoming more and more common across the country as local governments construct freeways in lieu of the state transportation departments. Las Vegas, with its beltway and Summerlin Parkway, is another example of this trend.

The other Atlanta metropolitan county-maintained freeway is the limited access portion of the East-West Connector in Cobb County. These facilities join the Southwest Bypass (now known as the Veterans Parkway) and the Harry Truman Parkways as county-maintained freeways in Georgia. The Savannah freeways however were designed and built by the Georgia Department of Transporation. The Ronald Reagan and East-West Connector were built by their respective counties. The distinction of the Ronald Reagan Parkway as a county maintained highway is the reasoning behind the rather substandard signage found along the seven mile route.1

For a short time during the construction of the Reagan Parkway, GDOT assigned the route the temporary SR designation of Georgia 864. The state route distinction however was never signed.1


Georgia 124 north
One mile south of the Ronald Reagan Parkway is the Georgia 124 (Scenic Highway) junction with U.S. 78 & Georgia 10 (Main Street). The city of Snellville is a fast growing suburb centered around the U.S. 78 and Georgia 124 junction. Pictured here is Georgia 124 northbound at U.S. 78 & Georgia 10. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Georgia 124 (Scenic Highway) northbound at the beginning of the Ronald Reagan Parkway north of Snellville. Entering the intersection from the right is Pinehurst Road, a local highway linking Georgia 124 with Georgia 81 near Grayson. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Ronald Reagan Parkway north
Initially the Ronald Reagan Parkway begins as a surface boulevard with signalized intersections. A grassy median and four lanes of traffic carry the parkway from Georgia 124 (Scenic Highway) through two signals. The first traffic light exists with the entrances to Presidential Market and Scenic Square Shopping Centers. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Presidential Circle ends at the Ronald Reagan Parkway at the second traffic light of the four-lane highway. The freeway portion of the parkway begins ahead. Photo taken 01/17/04.
The first exit of the Ronald Reagan Parkway is that of the parclo interchange with Webb Gin House Road. Webb Gin House Road begins nearby at Dogwood Road, traveling east to Georgia 124 (Scenic Highway) and Georgia 20 (Grayson Highway) toward Lawrenceville. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Ronald Reagan Parkway northbound at the Webb Gin House Road on-ramp. The parkway features a curbed median and partial right-hand shoulders. Photo taken 01/17/04.
A second parclo interchange handles the movements to Five Points Trickum Road. The north-south surface road begins in Lawrenceville and ends in Trickum. The Five Forks community resides just south of here at the intersection with Dogwood Road. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Continuing northward beyond the Five Points Trickum Road exit on northbound. The parkway features several kinks and curves as it straddles residential subdivisions between Snellville and Lilburn. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Northbound at a railroad overcrossing near Bethesda Park. The small guide sign displays Bethesda Community Park and Senior Center for the upcoming diamond interchange. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Bethesda Church Road intersects Ronald Reagan Parkway at the third northbound exit. Bethesda Church Road begins at the park to the south and travels northward to U.S. 29 & Georgia 8 (Lawrenceville Highway) becoming Bethesda School Road. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Bethesda Church Road crosses over the Ronald Reagan Parkway. Pampas grass is used as part of the landscaping of the four lane highway. Photo taken 01/17/04.
The last mainline interchange of the Ronald Reagan Parkway is situated at U.S. 29 & Georgia 8 (Lawrenceville Highway) near Lilburn. U.S. 29 & Georgia 8 follow the Lawrenceville Highway from U.S. 78 (Stone Mountain Parkway) northeastward through Tucker (pop. 26,532), Lilburn, Bethesda, and Lawrenceville. Photo taken 01/17/04.
A diamond interchange facilitates the movements between Ronald Reagan Parkway and Lawrenceville Highway. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Ronald Reagan Parkway ends at a partial interchange with Pleasant Hill Road. All traffic is directed onto the arterial northbound. A loop ramp carries southbound Pleasant Hill Road motorists onto the parkway here as well. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Pleasant Hill Road north
Pleasant Hill Road northbound after the end of Ronald Reagan Parkway. The six-lane arterial sees a three-mile drive between the parkway and Interstate 85 Exit 104. Photo taken 01/17/04.
The intersection of Pleasant Hill Road northbound at Mary Street near Ronald Reagan Parkway. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Approaching the diamond interchange with Interstate 85 (Exit 104) on Pleasant Hill Road north. Photo taken 01/17/04.
Pleasant Hill Road northbound at the Interstate 85 northbound on-ramp. Span wire supported Interstate 85 signs direct motorists to the upcoming southbound on-ramp ahead. Photo taken 01/17/04.
A closer look at the Interstate 85 Georgia overheads for the southbound on-ramp to Interstate 85. Pleasant Hill Road is home to the Gwinnett Place Mall north of Exit 104. Nine miles separate the road from the Perimeter Highway via Interstate 85. Photo taken 01/17/04.

Sources:

  1. J.T. Legg

Page Updated March 7, 2004.

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