At long last, it looks like the state Department of Transportation is ready to address the traffic nightmare created by the two-lane Hwy. 20 bridge crossing the Chattahoochee River and connecting Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.
State officials said last week the planned construction of parallel bridges to replace the current structure could begin as soon as this summer, with completion expected by May 31, 2016.
As irritating as it almost certainly will be to face three years of orange cones and traffic detours, the end result is one that will have a major positive impact on traffic in that portion of the county.
Over the years, various road projects on both sides of the river have resulted in the 4-laning of bits and pieces of Hwy. 20 in both counties. But no matter how much volume the extra lanes allowed, once traffic neared the bridge, congestion occurred.
Commercial growth on the highway near the river on both sides has exacerbated the problem, causing bottlenecks and major delays at certain times of the day.
This is a project that has been a long time coming.
Some 25 years or so ago, the state was moving forward with plans for widening 20 between the two counties and replacing the existing bridge. The need at that time was obvious, as both Forsyth and Gwinnett were growing at exceptional rates, and the highway provided a connector between Ga. 400 and I-85.
In 1990, however, significant amendments were made to the federal Clean Air Act, and one of the byproducts of those changes was the suspension of many road construction projects that were on the drawing board.
The revamped Clean Air Act had new authorization for regulation of toxic emissions, including those from cars, and road projects that were likely to increase the volume of traffic were suddenly without funding.
We can only hope there are no more detours for the Ga. 20 bridge, and that the construction timetable released by the state proves to be an accurate one. That’s one road project ribbon cutting we’ll be glad to attend.