The ongoing widening of Ga. 400 hit a major milestone on Monday as the northbound side of the road, except on the bridge over Lake Lanier, opened a new third lane.
About a mile of new road was opened on Monday from Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306) to Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369), completing the last leg of northbound work that began in November 2015.
“It’s a pretty big landmark or milestone for this project,” said Katie Strickland, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We’re done as a far as the lane-work widening on the northbound side, but we still are working on the bridge over Lake Lanier, and that is scheduled to be completed by the end of July.”
Strickland said though it is the last to be finished, work on the bridge is on schedule and is the last to be completed due to other parts of the project being ahead of schedule.
“It’s not that it was taking forever, it’s that the concrete paving we did went so fast because we had such a dry summer last summer,” Strickland said.
While work continues, the new left lane after the bridge will be used as a turning lane.
“That is going to be considered a long left-turn lane for those who want to turn on 369,” she said. “It doesn’t continue onto 400 northbound. If you want to continue onto 400 northbound, you need to be on the two most outside lanes. That inside lane is going to take you to 369.”
Signs were put up on Monday to alert drivers of the change.
Hwy. 369 will see more work as a new “partial cloverleaf” interchange is being added at the intersection with Ga. 400 to create Exit 18. The county will begin acquiring right of way soon.
“I think when the interchange is done, that will be the biggest difference maker in that area,” said District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents north Forsyth.
Construction is slated to begin in 2018 and will take about 36 months. The estimated cost of the project for construction, acquiring right of way and utilities is about $47 million. Forsyth County is putting forth $33 million.
Work on the southbound side of Ga. 400 began in May, and paving is expected to begin from Ronald Reagan Parkway (Hwy. 141) to McFarland Parkway/Exit 12 this summer.
“We’re looking at some time in July to start to pave; it could be late July,” Strickland said. “This is the strategic plan to in order to get it done in the most effective way, the most efficient way to open it to traffic in each sections, because we want to make sure that Forsyth County residents are getting the benefit as soon as they can of using these portions of the lane to ease congestion.”
Southbound widening is expected to be done in fall 2018.
GDOT contributed about $14 million to the project, and Forsyth County has funded around $34.5 million, which came from the $200 million transportation bond approved by voters in 2014.
Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd Levent said the project will help with traffic and that the timeline was a quick project by road standards.
“It’ll definitely help traffic flow,” Levent said. “To get a highway project like that done, there is so much talk and planning and funding sources that these things don’t even start to get complete for 10 to 20 years out. So seeing that we are just a few years into this whole thing … that this reality and another phase has opened up, it’s phenomenal.”