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Like traffic, Hwy. 20 widening creeping along in east Forsyth
Removal of former Chattahoochee River bridge nearly complete

EAST FORSYTH — With the new bridge connecting Forsyth and Gwinnett counties open to traffic over the Chattahoochee River, the years-long project to widen Hwy. 20 has portions that are expected to be completed in about 15 months.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is overseeing work along the corridor from Samples Road in Cumming across the river to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett. The effort will transform Hwy. 20 into a four-lane divided highway.

Construction is being managed in three separate projects totaling 7.53 miles.

The most recent update came in October when crews began taking apart the old bridge over the Chattahoochee after shifting traffic to the new one. That project is nearly complete, said Teri Pope, a spokeswoman for the DOT.

“Hwy. 20 serves as a major east-west arterial with a principal crossing over the Chattahoochee River, linking Gwinnett and Forsyth counties south of Lake Lanier,” she said. “The widening of this section of the roadway will enhance traffic movement and improve vehicle and pedestrian safety on this important east-west route.”

Work on this section, which spans from James Burgess Road in Forsyth across the river to Burnett Trail in Gwinnett County, began on June 12, 2013. It is required to be completed by May 31, 2018, Pope said.

Plans for the 1.07-mile middle portion also calls for a second two-lane bridge to be built so that each side will carry motorists in one direction.

Both new overpasses will be parallel and will be south, or downstream, of the former bridge.

The former bridge dated to 1947 and has been said to not meet current design standards.

To the west, the project begins at Samples Road and continues 2.75 miles to James Burgess Road in Forsyth.

In this portion, Pope said, crews are currently relocating utilities, working on drainage structures, grading and laying a base down as the grade is set. Retaining walls also are under construction.

Work on this portion has an expected completion date of July 23, 2017.

On the other side of the river, the makeover of the 3.71-mile portion from Burnett Trail to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett began on June 4, 2013, and is expected to be completed by June 1, 2017.

Crews along this section are building retaining walls and drainage structures, installing drainage pipe and earthwork and pouring concrete curbs and sidewalks.

C.W. Matthews Contracting of Marietta is handling all three projects for a total cost of $62.7 million, Pope said. Right-of-way acquisition for the total expanse cost $80.9 million.

When completed, Hwy. 20 will be a four-lane divided highway with sidewalks.

With the passage of the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, for which former District 24 state Rep. Mark Hamilton of Cumming advocated, the state has secured enough money to move forward with a separate widening project on Hwy. 20.

This 24-mile expanse from Canton in Cherokee County to Cumming will be widened as a separate initiative from the Forsyth-Gwinnett project.