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DOT gathers input on Hwy. 20
Large crowd turns out for meeting
Forsyth County resident Hugh Pirkle places a dot on a map showing where he lives as Kristine Hansen-Dederick, with the Georgia Department of Transportation, and his son-in-law Jason Vandergrift look on. Pirkle and Vandergrift were among about 150 people that took part in a public meeting about possible improvements to Hwy. 20 from Cumming to Canton on Thursday at Otwell Middle School. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Donna Martin goes into work early every morning to avoid traffic on Hwy. 20.

“I work in Johns Creek and I take the back roads,” she said. “If I ever go in late, I’m stuck on Dr. Bramblett Road because it backs up so much [from Hwy. 20] that I can’t even get out of my driveway.”

Martin was one of nearly 150 people who took part in the first step of planned improvements to the well-traveled corridor.

The Georgia Department of Transportation held an informational meeting Thursday night at Otwell Middle School.

It was the first of many steps toward making improvements to the state route from Ga. 400 in Cumming to Interstate 575 in Canton, said DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope.

Most DOT information meetings seek feedback on specific plans that have been determined by DOT engineers. Thursday was a departure from that format.

“This is not like our typical meetings, because we’re coming here with a blank slate and we’re looking at such a long segment from 400 all the way to 575,” Pope said. “So we’re looking at it regionally as well as locally to try to get ideas to improve [the highway] both ways, which is unusual.”

Those who attended were asked to give information such as where they live and work and thoughts on how best to improve the stretch of road as a whole, as well as small areas such as specific intersections.

“Right now, we’re taking ideas,” Pope said. “We’re using [sticky] notes and as people tell us what their concerns are, we’re writing them on those and sticking them at those areas.

“We’ve got a sheet for our need and purpose statement [for federal funding]. We’re trying to get people to tell us what they think the purpose of improvements should be to help write that statement.”

Pope said the residents probably won’t see any roadwork taking place on the stretch of Hwy. 20 anytime soon.

“The soonest right-of-way could start would be 2019, and the soonest construction could start would be 2020,” she said. “But if we get some smaller ideas for some the specific intersections, those could happen sooner.”

Over the next few years, meetings such as Thursday’s will occur will some regularity to focus and narrow the scope of whatever will eventually take place.

Anyone who wasn’t able to take part in the meeting still has some options for providing input.

A second public meeting is set for 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Calvary Baptist Church, 137 Hightower Road (Hwy. 369) in Ball Ground.

Additionally, input can be provided through an online survey at Full information on the project can be found at

As for Martin, she’s hopeful the process will be successful.

“It’s just growth and it happened so fast,” she said of the traffic. “I don’t think we planned very good for it, but I do think this will be good.”