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New Buford Highway lanes to open May 25

A date has been set for the opening of new lanes on one of Forsyth County’s most traveled roads.

On Tuesday, Georgia Department of Transportation officials announced all lanes of Buford Highway (Hwy. 20 east) will  be open to the public on May 25.

“[We plan to] have the four lanes open to traffic,” said Katie Strickland, district communications coordinator for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We’re working together with [contractor] C.W. Matthews, with our construction partners, and we’re pretty confident that’s when we’ll be able to pull the trigger and everybody is going to be able to be on those four lanes, so it’s exciting.”

Strickland said though all lanes will be open, there is still some work to be completed before the project is wrapped up.

“We’ll still be out there doing some grassing, making sure if any of the sod dies, any of the vegetation dies that we would come back and fix that,” she said. “But, as far as an open to traffic date … all of the lanes will be open for traffic to travel … as of the 25th.”

She said crews will begin moving barrels that morning.

“It’s going to be a huge improvement,” Strickland said. “We know that there is a lot of congestion. Everybody is going to Cumming from Gwinnett County, then Forsyth to Gwinnett, they are going to love this. It’s going to really improve their commute and improve the efficiency of their drive.”

Crews still have some work to complete before the new lanes can open.

“Obviously, we have to finish up our striping,” Strickland said. “We’ve been paving and getting that final topping – that final asphalt –  really smooth as the driving surface … so it will be safe. The striping, the guardrail, the signage, all of those last-minute safety features, we’re still working toward that.”

The Forsyth County project is the last of three parts of a years-long plan to widen Hwy. 20 about 7.5 miles from Samples Road in Cumming across the river to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett.

“It will be four lanes all the way through the Sugar Hill, Gwinnett, Buford [area] all the way to Cumming,” Strickland said.

The other projects included work in Gwinnett and the construction of two bridges over the Chattahoochee River. Both have been completed.

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

Buford Highway is not the only portion of the state highway to be widened.

A project to expand Canton Highway (Hwy. 20 west) from I-575 in Canton to Ga. 400 in Cumming is also being planned. Previously, officials have said construction could start in 2022.