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Project will convert Hwy. 369-Ga. 400 crossing in north Forsyth into an exit

NORTH FORSYTH -- Plans to convert a congested intersection on Ga. 400 in north Forsyth into an interchange are moving forward.


During a work session Tuesday, the Forsyth County commission voted 5-0 to use projected savings from the widening of corridor to pay for the design of an interchange at Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369).


Both projects are part of the $200 million transportation bond program that voters approved last year.


Earlier this year, the county went to market with the first $100 million of the bonds for the widening. That project will add an additional lane in the existing median along a 13.4-mile stretch of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Hwy. 369.


County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the cost for the widening ended up being substantially less than planned.


“Our budget for that project, at least our contribution was estimated to be $53 million for the widening,” Jarrard said. “The actual project came in at $37.5 million, at least from the county’s requirement in respect to that. Therefore, for purposes of the county that was a $15 million cost savings.”


The design of the interchange is expected to take at somewhere between 16 to 18 months and cost about $600,000. Once completed, the project will transform the crossing into a more traditional-looking exit.


Jarrard said state bond law allows governments to use funds from projects that were overestimated to fund other bond efforts. The interchange project was initially projected to be funded using federal money.


“The way to make sure we harmonize our practice with the law is a reimbursement resolution,” he said. “That is , we are going to fund, out of the general fund, any costs needed for the interchange improvement until such time as we know that our bond projects are all paid for, or at least that there’s no underestimated projects.”


Once it is clear that all projects are funded, Jarrard said, the county can then reimburse the general fund for the interchange’s design, and that the reason for the change was a “timing game.”


Through an agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation, the county will instead receive federal funding to widen McGinnis Ferry Road, also a transportation bond project.


Construction of the Hwy. 369 intersection is not planned to start until at least 2018, with the cost breakdown likely $18 million from the county and $25 million from the state.


During the meeting, the county commission also selected American Engineers Inc. to handle engineering services for the project.