EAST FORSYTH — The Georgia Department of Transportation opened the new Hwy. 20 bridge over the Chattahoochee River on Wednesday night, shifting traffic onto the new span.
This milestone in the project began at 7 p.m. by shifting traffic off the original bridge, which was built in 1947, to the new bridge from James Burgess Road in Forsyth County across to Riverside Road in Gwinnett County, according to Harold Mull, GDOT district construction engineer.
“Once traffic is using the new lanes, crews can rebuild the original lanes of the road and the bridge,” Mull said.
The Hwy. 20 corridor from Samples Road across the Chattahoochee River to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard is being widened to a four-lane divided highway in three separate projects totaling 7.53 miles.
Once completed, the corridor will be a four-lane divided highway from Ga. 400 in Cumming to the Grayson community in Gwinnett County.
Though it is the shortest portion of the project, the 1.07 miles that includes the bridge has drawn the most attention as heavy delays often result when there’s just one lane of traffic flowing in each direction.
The new bridge is one of two parallel river overpasses that will be south, or downstream, of the original structure. Aerial photos show it has shoulders and sidewalks.
The first bridge, which the DOT said does not meet current design standards, is scheduled for demolition to begin today, weather permitting.
The bridges are part of one of three projects along the corridor.
Hwy. 20 between Samples and James Burgess roads in east Forsyth is also being widened to a four-lane divided highway with sidewalks, which at last check remained on track for its Nov. 30, 2016, completion.
On the Gwinnett County side of the river, the 3.71 miles from Burnett Trail to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard are also being transformed into the same, continuous four-lane divided highway. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2016.
The speed limit in the Hwy. 20 work zone is 35 mph at all times. All fines are doubled in a work zone, for which a ticket can cost up to $2,000.
Work on the bridge first began on June 12, 2013.
When the second bridge opens, traffic will have two lanes in each direction, with each bridge carrying one direction of traffic.