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Road widening to affect popular park in south Forsyth

SOUTH FORSYTH — Plans to expand a busy south Forsyth road are going to affect nearby Sharon Springs Park, forcing the reconfiguration of a pedestrian path.

“The county is doing a widening project down Sharon Road, and of course with residences on the other side of the road, when they widen it they are coming onto parks property to do it,” said Jim Pryor, parks director.

A portion of the park’s walking trail that run between Sharon Road and a baseball and football field will need to be redesigned, Pryor told the parks board during a recent meeting.

“In our engineer’s mind, he said to get a walking trail through here we either need to come across the bottom closer to the field, or cut into this hill to put a walking trail in,” Pryor said. “It can be done, but it would be expensive.

“If cutting into the hill, you’re talking about a retaining wall. And if you need a retaining wall, you probably need a fence.”

According to Pryor, the work on the trail will be paid for using transportation funds. He estimated the projects will cost about $30,000 for engineering and between $200,000 and $300,000 for construction.

“In doing this, we’re asking that the money come from the transportation account, since they’re the ones putting the burden on us,” he said.

The parks board approved the plan.

The widening will expand Sharon from two lanes to four between Old Atlanta Road and Hwy. 141. The project is part of the special purpose local option sales tax program, known as SPLOST VII, which was approved by voters in 2011. Construction is expected to be bid out in 2016 or ’17.

Forsyth began acquiring right of way for the project this year. Although it is a sales tax project, it will be partially funded through the transportation bond that voters approved last year.

Earlier this fall, the county commission approved using bond funds for SPLOST projects. The money will be repaid as the sales tax money comes in, which likely will be next year.

A separate plan to connect the trail at Sharon Springs with a sidewalk along Sharon Road was discussed but not adopted, largely due to safety concerns.

During a recent work session, the commission voted 5-0 to ask engineering firm Wolverton and Associates to provide an estimate for a trail within the boundaries of the park.