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8-mile stretch of Ga. 400 opening leads into transportation summit
1WEB 400 ribbon cut
By the time officials cut the ribbon symbolically opening the new lane on Ga. 400, workers had already removed the barrels opening the lane to traffic from McFarland Parkway to north of Exit 14. - photo by Jim Dean

According to information from GDOT, the following amounts of material were used on the new expansion of Ga. 400:

• 40,090 tons of concrete, which would equal 95 football fields covered 12 inches thick
• 13,339 square yards of asphalt, which would equal 2.5 football fields
• 5.7 miles of guardrail
• 15.15 miles of striping
• 728 construction barrels
• 2,255 truckloads excavated

(Video courtesy of the Georgia Department of Transportation)

CUMMING -- Wednesday was a busy day for drivers, which should hopefully lead to less traffic in the area.

On Wednesday, the first section of a new lane on Ga. 400 northbound opened and locals were updated on local and state traffic projects at the annual Transportation Summit.

That morning, local and state officials were on hand at the GRTA Park and Ride Lot for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new lane, which runs about from McFarland Parkway (Exit 12) to just north of Hwy. 20 (Exit 14).

The expansion was approved by Forsyth County voters in November 2014 as part of a $200 million traffic bond.

“Today we receive the results of the decision of Forsyth County citizens to invest in transportation,” said Rudy Bowen, of the State Transportation Board representing the 7th Congressional District. “I think we will all agree it was a very, very smart decision. It’s an important partnership that will continue to serve the citizens and help the encouragement of economic growth in this community.”

Construction on the 13.4-mile stretch began in November 2015, one year after funding for the project and an array of other widening and improvement projects was approved by voters in an infrastructure bond referendum.

Work was completed on the stretch in less than a year — an altered schedule had crews working extended hours and while traffic was heavy on the southbound route to expedite the widening.

The project is a joint venture of Forsyth County and the Georgia Department of Transportation, or GDOT.

The $47 million — $34 million provided by the 2014 bond and $13 million by state funds — project will create an additional lane on both sides of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369), which will become Exit 18.

“We’re going up to Hwy. 20 and we’re going to continue up the northbound lane to [Hwy. 369] with a future opening and bridge implementation,” said Forsyth County Chairman Pete Amos. “We’re going to start working on the southbound lane on [Hwy.] 369 back to McFarland.”

Widening the road also includes widening bridges at Big Creek and Lake Lanier/Sawnee Creek.

The state department is managing the project — the northbound lane has a tentative completion date of spring 2017, with work on the additional southbound lane slated to begin after for an expected completion of mid-2018.

After the ribbon cutting, many of the same officials were present at the transportation summit at the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College, where Russell McMurray, with GDOT, and District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam updated the crowd on state and local projects.
Projects were funded by the transportation bond, federal funds, a special 1-cent sales tax and House Bill 170, which provided funding for state projects.

Bethelview Road

A project to widen about 5 miles of Bethelview Road is underway at a cost of $56 million. The project is about 20 percent complete and is expected to be done in 2019.

“Bethelview is not just a county road, it’s a regionally significant roadway that connects (Hwy.) 20, as you know, to Peachtree Parkway,” McMurray said.

Buford Highway

Work on Buford Highway (Hwy. 20 east) is ongoing and has been broken down into three sections; the Chattahoochee River bridges, Samples Road to James Burgess Road and work in Gwinnett County.

For the bridges, about 80 percent of work has been completed, with one of the project’s dual bridges open to the public and the other under construction. The $32 million project is expected to be complete in May 2018.

From Samples to James Burgess roads, the widening of a 2.7 mile section of road will have a total cost of about $70 million and May 2019.

“This is an interesting project in that the right of way cost was double the construction cost; $43 million in right of way acquisition, $23 million in construction.”

On the Gwinnett side, from the Chattahoochee River to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard is a $78 million project that is expected to wrap-up construction next summer.

Bridges

Forsyth County bridges going over Lake Lanier, some of which were built when the lake was, are also in need of replacement.

On Hwy. 53, the current bridge over the lake was built in 1956 and work on a new $23 million should begin seeing activity in coming weeks.

“These bridges really give us concern, because we’re one tractor trailer away from a catastrophe,” McMurray said.

McMurray said the project will also include platforms for osprey that have made nests on the bridge.

An additional $49 million will be spent on three bridges on Hwy. 369.

Bids will be accepted for: Two Mile Creek in December, Six Mile Creek next spring and Brown Bridge next summer.

“We built off to the side so the existing bridges stay open, but there will be a construction work zone and it will be fascinating to see,” McMurray said.

Hwy. 369 and interchange

A new Ga. 400 interchange, which will become Exit 18, will be funded with bond funds of $18 million with $7 million in committed state funds. Work should begin in 2018

The widening of Hwy. 369 from Hwy. 9 to Hwy. 306 is being paid for with bond funds. The project is in the design phase and construction is also dklfgasdjkfpf scheduled for 2018.

The road will also get passing lanes from the Cherokee County line to Wallace Tatum Road. Design for the project will likely be bid out this month and the project is being funded through $200,000 in local funds, over $ 1 million in federal funds and $60,000 in state funds.

McGinnis-Ferry interchange

Another new interchange is coming to McGinnis-Ferry Road from Bethany Bend to Union Hill Road. Bond funds are $10 million and federal funds $34 million. Right of way will be acquired next year with construction in 2018.

New roads

Ronald Regan extension from Majors Road to McFarland Parkway will be paid for by a local bond. The $43.4 million design complete in spring and row construction next year

Bethelview

Phase 1 of the project has been completed from Hwy. 9 to Castleberry Road and was funded through sales tax.

Phase 2, Bethelview to Hwy. 20, should be complete by 2019 and will receive $4.5 in sales tax funds and $13 million from GDOT.

Old Atlanta Road

Old Atlanta Road has several Projects coming.

Phase 2 and 3: Phase 2, Sharon to Nichols Road, and Phase 3, McGinnis Ferry Road to St. Marlo Country Club Parkway, are expected to be completed in June 2017 and the end of this year.

Phase 4: St. Marlo to Old Atlanta Club is being funded by $3.5 million from bonds and $9.5 million in sales tax funds. Construction will be bid out next year.

Phase 5: Old Atlanta Club to James Burgess. Bond funds of$14 million. Construction will begin next year.

Widenings

Brookwood from McGinnis Ferry Road to Peachtree Parkway will be paid for with $6 million from the bond and sales tax funds of $200,000.

The county should be bid the project soon and construction will begin next year.

McGinnis Ferry Road will be winded from Sergeant Road to Union Hill Road using about $18 million bond funds, $1.25 million in sales tax funds and $10 million in state. Work will be done with the cities of Johns Creek and Alpharetta, and construction should begin in 2018 or early-2019.

Pilgrim Mill’s widening from the Cumming City limits to Freedom Parkway will be funded $9.5 million from bond and $200,000 for sales tax.

Bids for construction in early-2017

Work on Union Hill Road from Ga. 400 to McFarland Parkway has already begun. $18 million in bond funds, $366,000 in SPLOST and a grant for $1.2 million will fund the project. It is expected to be completed next year.

Sharon Road from Hwy. 141 to Old Atlanta Road will receive $9.9 million in tax funding. Design is complete, right of way acquisition should be done by the end of the year and construction will likely be bid out early next year.

Castleberry and Hutchinson roads will be widened to Bethelview Road. The project is currently under construction and expected to be completed this year. Funding came for sales tax.

Post Road is being widened from Hwy. 9 to Hwy. 20. The project is being funded through $3 million in local funds and state funding of over $110 million concept plan by November and design by 2018.

Mullinax Road-Union Hill Road will be widened from Atlanta Highway to McFarland Parkway with tax funds. Competition is anticipated by the end of this month.

Other work

More trash pickup and mowing along with hiring smaller contractors to handle smaller jobs. The county is also undertaking efforts to beautify the Ga. 400 corridor.