In a long awaited move, the state transportation board has voted to approve $28.5 million for the widening of Hwy. 20 in Forsyth and Gwinnett counties.
The project will expand the road from two to four lanes from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett to Samples Road in Forsyth.
“This project is huge for connectivity and will make a difference in the entire region,” said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.
The vote Thursday to approve funding was a great way for Steve Gooch to finish his term on the DOT board before taking office as state senator in District 51, which includes some of north Forsyth.
“Today is a great day for Georgia,” Gooch said after the vote. “The connection we will have from [Ga.] 400 to Interstate 985 and then Interstate 85 will improve mobility, safety and our economy.”
Hwy. 20 features four lanes from I-85 to Peachtree Industrial in Gwinnett and from Samples Road to Ga. 400.
While the widening — which will be divided into three parts totaling more than 7 miles — is not set to start until 2015, land acquisition has begun.
But with the estimated cost of acquiring the needed right of way topping $95 million, Pope said it could be 2018 before the project is finished.
In Forsyth, the right of way needed to widen the 2.75 miles between James Burgess and Samples roads likely will cost about $50 million, according to DOT figures.
About $18 million of that has been funded, with the remaining balance to come from the state’s fiscal year 2012 budget.
In Gwinnett County, the widening will span about 3.71 miles from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to East Burnette Trail.
The $28.5 million approved Thursday will be combined with $11 million set aside to acquire right-of-way for that portion. At a total cost of $44 million, the difference won’t be funded until fiscal year 2013.