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An expanding county's reaction to growth
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Commuters sit in traffic at the intersection of Ga. 400 and Browns Bridge Road.

Editor's note: This story was written by Forsyth Central High School journalism students in partnership with the Forsyth County News.

By Emma Harding, William Ghant, Dakota Brown and Matthew Clark

From the economy to urbanization to population, Forsyth County has seen nothing but growth in recent years. More neighborhoods are being built, businesses are being opened and schools are overflowing.

But many residents wonder if Forsyth County’s infrastructure is able to handle the rapid growth.

Residents of Forsyth County are constantly burdened with above-average commute times and their access to what was once a beautiful gateway to the North Georgia mountains has been limited over and over again.

Forsyth County commuters spend too much time behind the wheel, and it appears to be a never-ending problem. One South Forsyth High School student said a 10-mile trip to school and home every day can take him up to an hour both ways.

“In the short run, actually finishing some construction that’s being done on the roads would be helpful,” the student said. “Brookwood Road, for example, has been under construction for more than five years and still shows no significant improvement. [Commuters] think the installation of more roundabouts would be more helpful.”

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Construction crews work on a new bridge over Lake Lanier. (Photo by Emma Harding)

Indeed, a Facebook poll conducted with Forsyth County residents, in which 305 responded, asked people about their traffic concerns. Results revealed that 83.9 percent of drivers would rather have more roundabouts compared to 16.1 percent who would rather have traffic lights.

The city of Cumming is also notorious for traffic problems, and construction within the county seems to be a never-ending issue. A new project called “Westshore” has been proposed to county commissioners. The project would take up 60 acres of land off the undeveloped side of Market Place Boulevard, and if passed it could further complicate traffic problems in the area.

Forsyth County students also feel the impact of growth.

The Forsyth County Schools system is regarded as being one of the best public-school systems in the state of Georgia, receiving recognition of having the highest SAT and ACT scores, CCRPI, and graduation rate.

Some students said they can feel the impact of Forsyth County’s rapid population growth in their classrooms.

“With so many people, I easily feel lost, like I’m just stuck in the background,” said Claire Mathauer, a junior at Lambert High School.

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Denmark High School in south Forsyth County (Photo by Emma Harding)

Denmark High School opened this school year to relieve overcrowding at South Forsyth, but the school system already has plans to open four new schools by the year 2021.

One Forsyth County commissioner, who quested to remain anonymous, said the county’s growth is a good thing, as long as developments fit with the Forsyth County Comprehensive Plan.

“The purpose of the Comprehensive Plan is to guide the intensity, location and timing of development and to ensure compatibility with existing uses, infrastructure and economic trends while protecting natural and cultural resources,” the county said in a statement.