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Summit offers updates on road projects
Transportation Summit panelists, from left, Chris Tomlinson, Bayne Smith, Toby Carr and John Cunard field questions from moderator Pete Amos, chairman of the Forsyth County commission. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Brandon Pendley was hoping the topic of a public use airport for Forsyth County would be mentioned during the local transportation summit Wednesday.

Instead, panelists at the event — organized by the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce, the South Forsyth Rotary Club and Forsyth County — stuck to issues involving vehicle traffic.

But that ended up being all right with Pendley, who was among about 180 people who attended the summit at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.  

“Some of the project dates were really good to hear since you see some of those projects going on now and it’s good to know what the timelines are,” he said.

Among the speakers were Bayne Smith, a district engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, and Chris Tomlin, executive director of the State Road & Tollway Authority. John Cunard, director of Forsyth County’s engineering department, also spoke about road projects funded locally.

According to Smith, several current DOT projects will benefit local travelers.  Among them is widening and improvements where Hwys. 141 and 9 meet. That project, he said, is slated for completion in late April.

It also includes the widening of Bethelview Road, which is scheduled to finish by the end of June.

That project was of particular interest to Pendley, who lives nearby.

“Right now it’s a disaster because I can’t even get to [Ga. 400],” he said.

Some DOT projects will have more impact than others, according to Smith. Those include the widening of Hwy. 20 from James Burgess Road, on the county’s east side, to Burnett Trail in Gwinnett County. That project includes adding a bridge over the Chattahoochee River, which is the dividing line between the two counties.

“We’re just getting under way with that project, so it will be a couple of years before it’s complete,” he said.

Other bridge projects likely to affect Forsyth motorists are the replacement of the structures on Hwy. 53 over the Chestatee River and the ones on Hwy. 369 over Six Mile and Two Mile creeks, as well as the Chattahoochee River.

Some local projects currently in the pre-construction phase include resurfacing Hwy. 9 from Hwy. 20 to Hwy. 369. Construction on that project is slated to begin this spring. Another is widening Hwy. 20 from Samples Road to James Burgess.

Smith said he and fellow staff members are also looking for smaller projects, such as adding left turn lanes and improving turning radiuses, that can be completed more quickly and cost efficiently to help improve traffic flow.

He said the public is welcome to contact him with such ideas at (770) 532-5526 or

Cunard, the county’s engineering director, discussed some of the road projects being funded through 1-cent sales tax revenue.

“We have many needs and a lot of them are unfunded, but we’re moving forward with implementation as funding is available,” he said.

Since 1996, Cunard said, sales tax funding has facilitated four major four-lane, median roads: Market Place and Ronald Reagan boulevards and Freedom and Windermere parkways.

In addition, there have been 10 major widening projects, including Veterans Memorial Boulevard, Mathis Airport Parkway and Castleberry and McGinnis Ferry roads, as well as 87 state-county intersection projects.

“And we’ve resurfaced approximately 760 miles of county roads,” he said. “That’s more miles than the direct distance from Cumming to Green Bay, Wis.

“In 1987, there were 108 miles of gravel road in Forsyth County and today there are only 29 miles left.”

Cunard said some of the projects in the current sales tax program include nearly $46 million for widening projects such as Old Atlanta Road to Sharon Road to Nichols Road, and from St. Marlo subdivision to McGinnis Ferry Road. Other widening projects are Union Hill and Mullinax Road, and McGinnis Ferry Road.