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Ga. 400 widening project could extend to Hwy. 369 in north Forsyth

FORSYTH COUNTY — The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced that C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. is the apparent successful bidder to handle the widening of Ga. 400 in Forsyth County.

The project, which totals about $47.5 million, is slated to begin this fall. It calls for both directions of Ga. 400 to be widened by one lane in the existing inside median from McFarland Parkway to at least Bald Ridge Marina Road but possibly as far north as Hwy. 369 in north Forsyth.

The contract is expected to be finalized and awarded today, according to the DOT.

The tightened design phase requires the contractor to break ground by Nov. 2. That’s nearly a year to the day that Forsyth County voters approved the $200 million transportation bond referendum that is providing much of the funding for the project. The state is expected to contribute $10 million.

In a news release, the department stated the process used a variable scope procurement approach, incentivizing competition to provide the most lane miles of widening for the least cost. 

The process allowed the five interested parties to bid on 10 additional segments in both directions between Bald Ridge Marina and Browns Bridge roads (Hwy. 369).

The final bids include all possible segments, or a stretch of 14 miles. 

“In our bond, the language said that it would go up to Bald Ridge, and I don’t know what number that segment was,” said Forsyth County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mill, who was part of the local delegation that attended the bid meeting. “But they could bid it up to 10 and 10 was all the way to 369.”

Mills and the other local officials were pleased that the project cost came in lower than expected.

“I think we had allocated $63 million,” Mills said. “We were putting in $53 million and the state $10 million. And then the low bid came in at about $47.5 million, from C.W. Matthews, which was thrilling to hear.”

According to the DOT, the contract includes design and construction, permitting, utility coordination and/or utility relocation and any other necessary services.

It also includes the widening of four bridges — north and south over the Big Creek Greenway, as well as both directions over Lake Lanier.

In a statement, DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said the agency saw “an opportunity to align the goals of the Forsyth County voters — who clearly expressed their desire to widen Ga. 400 as far northward as possible — with an innovative procurement approach.”

“Using a variable scope ‘best value’ design-build methodology and the perfect project context, we refined our approach for the best possible outcome,” he said. “[Hwy.] 369 is the maximum distance that could be selected and the competitive bid represents a great value for Georgia.”

Rudy Bowen, the state transportation board member who represents the 7th Congressional District that includes Forsyth, hailed the news.

“By their vote, the people of Forsyth made a commitment to invest in transportation in their county,” he said. “This new way of bidding enables us to get the most for the money, and to turn this project around quickly.”

Mills echoed the comments of the DOT officials.

“[They] stood up they said they wanted to thank Forsyth County voters for making Georgia history for stepping up to the plate and partnering,” she said. “They had moved in record time of the voters approving the $200 million bond for going out to bid and getting it out to bid in I believe five months’ time.

“Personally, I just want to congratulate the voters that had a vision and supported our vision. It is a partnership with the state of Georgia, but we are all committed to seeing it through in a timely fashion and delivering at the best cost that it can be delivered.”