Officials from several levels of government were recently in Forsyth County to talk about one of the biggest issues in the area: traffic.
On Wednesday, the annual transportation summit was held at the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Tech featuring representatives from local, state and federal governments, who shared plans for roads in the county.
“We have a remarkable group of [speakers] lined up for arguably the most important business topic that we as a community face,” said James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said officials with the state are facing significant traffic issues but have plans to deal with some of those concerns.
“Metro-Atlanta is ranked No. 4 in the nation in congestion — not a ranking you want to be on,” he said. “We’re No. 8 eight in the world. [We] don’t want to be on that top-10 list. Georgia has seven of the top 100 freight bottlenecks, with the No. 1 freight bottleneck being Spaghetti Junction.”
The event included an address from Rep. Rob Woodall, a video of Forsyth County Commissioners going over zonings in their districts and an opportunity for the crowd to submit questions.
Those interested in more information from the county on projects can view the commissioners’ video, slides from the presentation from Forsyth County District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones and a map of transportation projects at Forsythco.com.
Over the past few transportation summits, the widening of Ga. 400 has been a big topic, and that remained the case on Wednesday. The widening project began in November 2015. The northbound side of the project was completed in June 2017.
GDOT District Engineer Brent Cook said work is ongoing on the southbound side and said a date has been set.
“We still have that southbound section from [Hwy.] 369 down to [Hwy.] 141 [to be complete,]” Cook said. “The contractor got caught by the weather. They have one little one-mile gap of concrete slab that he’s got to pour, but once the weather breaks, we feel pretty good that they’re going to have that section finished and all three lanes southbound open by the end of May.”
Cook said that would not end the project and work including replacing roadway, resurfacing, striping and other work. He said all of it should be completed by October.
A new interchange replacing the Ga. 400 interchange with Hwy. 369 is also being planned.
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 for the project.
During his presentation, McMurry said there were four ongoing projects to widen Atlanta Highway (Hwy. 9 south) from the Fulton County line to Hwy. 20.
“Those four projects constitute about $159 million investment to widen that roadway,” he said.
Those four projects would widen the road from Fulton to McFarland, McFarland to Post Road, Post Road to Peachtree Parkway (Hwy. 141) and Peachtree Parkway to Hwy. 20. Construction is set to begin in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years.
Canton Highway (Hwy. 20 west)
McMurry said the project to widen Canton Highway from Canton to downtown Cumming would cost about $500 million in state funds.
“Right of way phases are underway on the 575/Canton end, and the other phases of right of way acquisition will begin this summer through next summer,” he said. “Eight-hundred parcels of property have to be acquired … construction is slated for 2019 on the Canton end.”
Buford Highway (Hwy. 20 east)
While officials are getting ready for construction on one end of Hwy. 20, the other end is nearing the end of its project.
Traffic on Canton Highway recently shifted to new lanes, though only one lane in each direction is open, and both lanes of both sides of the road are expected to be done by May.
Cook said there were eight active projects in the county totaling about $205 million. Among those projects is the second phase of widening Bethelview Road.
“Phase two is what is under construction now. This is an example of a project that was a partnership with Forsyth County,” Cook said, later adding: “In the next few months, you’re going to see some traffic shifting around to get it, hopefully, in the final alignment.”
Cook said the project would be done by June 2019.
Cook also updated attendees on the status of projects to replace bridges over Lake Lanier.
He said Boling Bridge on Hwy. 53 over Lake Lanier is currently having beams set, and work on the project is about 75 percent complete. The bridge is estimated to open in March 2019.
On Hwy. 369 (Browns Bridge Road) bridges are being replaced at 6 Mile Creek, 2 Mile Creek and on Browns Bridge over Lake Lanier. Cook said age was a factor in replacing the bridges.
“All totaled, all three of the 369 bridges represent about a $54 million investment,” Cook said. “All those bridges have the same birthday. They’re all 1956 and 1957, so they’re all due for a replacement.”
Mills went over projects that are part of an ongoing update to the county’s traffic comprehensive plan and projects being funded through special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, funds.
She said the comprehensive plan had identified several projects.
“Some of the key projects that have already been identified in the update are widening Post Road, widening McGinnis Ferry Road from Sargent Road to McFarland Parkway, widening State Route 306 from Ga. 400 to 369 and widening State Route 9 from Fulton County to the city of Cumming,” she said.