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Feds narrowing options for wider Hwy. 20 between Cumming, Canton
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CUMMING — Plans to improve the Hwy. 20 corridor between Cumming and Canton have finished another phase and are awaiting review from the Federal Highway Administration.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has narrowed the number of alternatives to a “reasonable range,” though the exact number remains unclear, according to Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the agency.

The DOT considers Hwy. 20 from Interstate-575 in Canton to Ga. 400 in Cumming is a major east-west thoroughfare for the northern edge of metro Atlanta.

For years, the heavily traveled route has stirred concern of residents and the commuting public over “congestion, limited mobility and safety issues.”

According to the DOT, the corridor has “exceeded its capacity,” now needing “multiple improvements” in Cherokee and Forsyth counties.

The process began in 2007, when the DOT announced a plan to widen the expanse as three separate projects. Six years later, that approach was scrapped in favor of a single, regional project spanning the 24-mile stretch.

Several public hearings held in 2013 gathered input on all factors of the project, including routes. Nearly 2,000 people submitted comments online.

Possible routes have included widening the current road, going around the city of Cumming or building an entirely new route.

“We wanted local input on how best to improve State Route 20 while enhancing the communities along the corridor and we got it,” said Cynthia Burney, the project manager with the DOT.

“Upon [the Federal Highway Administration’s] concurrence of the Screen 2 report, we will return to the communities and continue the public involvement process.”

That process likely will take the form of stakeholder meetings and open houses to present the results.

Though there is no timeline for when results will be released or when meetings will take place, they will be held in both counties.

Any preferred route must still be passed through environmental impact reviews.

The Cumming-Canton project is separate from the widening of 7.5 miles of Hwy. 20 east of Cumming, between Samples Road in Forsyth County and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett County. That effort, which includes a new bridge over the Chattahoochee River, is well under way.