The Georgia Department of Transportation is looking both ways when crossing the street projects off its to-do list for well-traveled and often congested Highway 20.
There are currently two widening efforts in the works for the corridor on either side of Cumming — the portion known as Buford Highway, east toward Gwinnett County; and Canton Highway, which extends west toward the Cherokee County city.
Construction for the stretch between Forsyth and Gwinnett counties is much closer to being realized, with the engineering phase under way, DOT officials said. However, the portion from to Canton is years from beginning.
As many as 32,000 cars travel between Cumming and Canton daily.
After plans from several years ago fell through, the department is starting fresh, beginning with public hearings and an online survey.
Department spokesman Mark McKinnon said the feedback has been helpful in working toward a plan on the project, for which the DOT currently has only aerial photography. The widening likely will not be finished until 2022.
More than 360 people attended the two public information open houses, he said, and the MetroQuest survey website logged nearly 850 visits.
“This is the first time GDOT has used MetroQuest and we were very pleased with the number of responses,” McKinnon said.
The department collected 99 paper comment forms and 102 written comments via MetroQuest about the project, which includes some 20 miles of road between the two cities.
“We will be evaluating [feedback] and working with the project team on what changes we may or may not need to incorporate into the final design,” he said. “We will decide on any changes and they will be presented at other public information open houses this fall.”
McKinnon said after the second round of open houses, the department will begin work on a final design.
To the east of Cumming, the Forsyth-Gwinnett portion of Hwy. 20 is much closer, as well as a much smaller project.
It has two parts. The first calls for widening about a mile to a four-lane divided highway from Ruth Lane in Forsyth to east of Riverside Road in Gwinnett.
It also includes construction of two parallel bridges over the Chattahoochee River, which serves as the county line.
That project will be handled by C.W. Matthews Contracting at an estimated cost of more than $10.2 million. The completion date is May 31, 2016.
“Forsyth County is responsible for the preliminary engineering phase, which includes all the environmental tasks,” McKinnon said.
Clearing has begun for the other project, exclusively in Gwinnett, which will widen about four miles of the highway from Riverside Road, just east of the river to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard at an estimated construction cost of $31.8 million.
In addition, there also are plans to widen another 2.75 miles of Hwy. 20 between Samples and James Burgess roads, where it meets the bridge project, McKinnon said.
The project is on schedule to be let in February with funds already available.
If all goes according to plan, McKinnon said crews likely will be on site in May, with a construction time of 30 to 36 months.