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Demolition, digging part of separate road projects
Work will improve travel along Atlanta Highway
Ricky Wilson guides Nathan Chester as they work on Atlanta Highway. The digging is part of a project to improve the intersection with Buford Dam Road in Cumming. - photo by Jim Dean

Motorists traveling Atlanta Highway between Movies 400 and Mr. Swiss in Cumming may have noticed some recent changes.

A building that had been at the intersection of Bald Ridge Road has been demolished and a strip alongside the highway has been dug up near Good Ol’ Days restaurant.

City officials said the changes are part of two road improvement projects.

City Administrator Gerald Blackburn said the destruction of the former laundry business is part of a federal road project handled by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"That will have something to do with that part of what’ll eventually be intersection improvements there," Blackburn said. "The Georgia DOT is still acquiring part of the rights of ways and as they acquire [those], they’ll be taking some buildings down."

Teri Pope, a spokeswoman with the DOT, confirmed the department is in the process of buying property for the project.

"There are 13 parcels of land that needed to be purchased and so far we have purchased nine of them," she said, noting the land acquisition is scheduled to be complete by the end of September.

Pope said officials hope to receive bids for the project in December and begin construction in the spring.

She said the estimated cost of the project is about $6.4 million, which will come from the department’s safety funding.

According to Pope, the project involves Atlanta Highway where it meets Meadow Drive and Bald Ridge and Mary Alice Park roads.

"We think it will vastly improve the area," she said.

The improvements will include connecting Mary Alice Park and Bald Ridge roads. They will then flow together and join Meadow, which will be extended.

Meadow will then meet Atlanta Highway at a traffic light, and stop signs will be added at Mary Alice Park and Bald Ridge roads.

"Our engineers say the safest intersections are 90-degree intersections, so we’re working to make all those intersections 90-degree angles," Pope said.

She said the project will also involve leveling some hills to flatten the topography and improve the grades of roads, which will also be straightened as much as possible.

Pope couldn’t speculate on how long the construction phase of the project would take, noting that timeline would be determined by the contractor after a bid is awarded.

"It’s a complicated design and we have to let traffic continue to flow there throughout construction," she said.

Assistant city manager Steve Bennett said the digging in front of Good Ol’ Days is part of the city’s efforts to improve Buford Dam Road.

"The road will be widened there with turn lanes as a part of that project," he said.

The Buford Dam widening project spans from Sanders Road to Hwy. 9 and involves widening the road to up to four lanes and installing sidewalks.

It’s projected to cost about $3.8 million, with about $1.8 million coming from the state.

The project, which is being handled by contractor C.W. Matthews, included closing the road between Sanders Road and Market Place Boulevard from early March to early June.

The closure allowed crews to replace a culvert near Market Place.

Bennett said the project remains on schedule.

"We’re still on track for it to be finished up by the end of September," he said.