From the Fulton County line in the south to the far reaches of north Forsyth, 2010 was a big year for local road construction.
And with intersection improvements and several repaving and road widening projects, 2011 construction is off to an early start.
“We’re getting ready to roll out the Hwy. 53 intersection projects at Chestatee Heights Road and Truman Mountain Road,” said Tim Allen, the county's assistant director of engineering. “Those two projects are ready to go right now.”
In addition to the 15 intersection improvements slated for 2011, the county also is working on several other projects, including widening Old Atlanta Road between James Burgess and McGinnis Ferry roads.
Work is also planned for Kelly Mill Road, from the Cumming city limits to Bethelview Road.
The intersection improvements will have the greatest impact to traffic, but “those two projects are going to be the most dramatic,” Allen said of Old Atlanta and Kelly Mill roads.
“They [are] the ones that are visually going to have the most impact and that people are going to see the most,” Allen said.
One of Cumming’s first projects in the new year will be widening Buford Dam Road to four lanes and adding sidewalks from Hwy. 9 to Sanders Road.
Including right-of-way costs and construction, the price tag is expected to be about $4.3 million, of which the state will cover about $1.8 million.
“The utility work is in progress at this point in time,” said city administrator Gerald Blackburn. “Water, phone, power lines and all those things are in the process of being relocated so that the actual road construction can begin shortly after the first of the year.”
Another city project slated for early 2011 is one that was supposed to have been completed before Christmas.
The repaving of Market Place Boulevard will take just three days of actual work, Blackburn said.
But with winter weather, delays from contractor C.W. Matthews and not wanting to disrupt holiday shopping along the busy retail corridor, the project could start as late as March.
“Whenever there’s a break in the weather sufficient enough as far as temperature being above 55 degrees and no rain, that’s when we’ll start,” Blackburn said.
Further into 2011, the city, federal government and state transportation department will join together to renovate Hwy. 9 where it meets Mary Alice Park, Bald Ridge and Meadow roads.
The $1.48 million construction project will begin as soon as the rights of way for the project are purchased.
Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said a signal will be added at the crossing, which will be rebuilt to four points, instead of five.
Mary Alice Park and Bald Ridge roads will be realigned to merge together about 350 feet east of the intersection.
“The project also adds right turn lanes and flattens out the intersection. Right now one leg comes up a big hill and you can’t see very well,” Pope said. “The project will remove a bottleneck from Cumming.
“It will bring congestion relief to the retail area and allow folks to get into Cumming faster and easier. This is a great project that will have a major impact.”
The city has contributed about $1.5 million of the $4.1 million estimated right-of-way cost. But because the project is otherwise funded through gas taxes -- 80 percent federal and 20 percent state -- the city has had to wait longer than desired for the project to get under way.
“We’re totally at the hands of the state and federal government as far as getting the project up and going, but it’ a great project,” Blackburn said. “If we can get this done, we can do away with that demolition derby there at that site.”
The 2011 construction projects follow a busy 2010, a year that brought the much-anticipated completion of the Hwy. 141 widening.
The $50.7 million project to expand the road from Hwy. 9 to McGinnis Ferry Road at the Fulton County line began in 2006.
Completion might have been delayed by about 18 months, but Pope said “we’re very grateful to get it finished and let people use all four lanes.”
“There were many hurdles with that project from the design engineering firm closing their doors,” Pope said. “But if you drive the area, you know that traffic flow has improved.”
A large project was also completed that eases traffic flow around Cumming's downtown square.
The $885,000 project, paid for through 1-cent sales tax money, turned Hwy. 9 into a two-way street between East Maple Street and Pirkle Ferry Road/East Main Street.
Motorists can now travel north and south, and have easy access onto East Maple toward Ga. 400 without having to drive a few blocks out of the way.
“We were concerned about that it might take a while for the traffic to adjust to the southbound flow there ... but everybody took that in stride,” Blackburn said. “It’s been very positive.”
Allen said the reclamation projects on Dr. Bramblett and Buford Dam roads likely had the most impact in 2010. The Fowler Road safety improvement was also big.
The $330,000 project built a concrete box culvert at a tributary to Big Creek. The previous cross drain pipes were undersized, which led to the road closing at least four times a year for the past decade.
“We don’t have to close that road now every time we get a rain event,” Allen said.
Pope said another noteworthy project was the Ga. 53 (Dawsonville Highway) bridge connecting Forsyth and Hall counties.
Massana Construction repaired damaged horizontal trusses and bridge joints, and removed and replaced the concrete approach slabs to the bridge.
“That actually went extremely well,” Pope said. “It finished ahead of schedule and it was weekend-only work.
“They actually finished 20 percent ahead of schedule.”