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Projects aired during transportation summit in Forsyth County

SOUTH FORSYTH — For all the positives in Forsyth County, by far the most common negative for residents is traffic, an issue local leaders hope to address with  some upcoming road projects.

Chief among those is the widening of a 13.4-mile stretch of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Hwy. 369, for which work is scheduled to begin next week.

In fact, many of those gathered Wednesday at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s annual transportation summit came there straight from the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ga. 400 project.

“This is a fast moving project and we’re grateful for [the state Department of Transportation] for giving it such priority,” said Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam.  “One year ago today, [the transportation bond referendum] was voted on, and today we broke ground. If it wasn’t raining today, the heavy equipment would be out there.”

The department has contributed $13 million and is managing the Ga. 400 project, while the remainder of the funding, about $34.5 million, will come from the transportation bond program.

Russell McMurray, commissioner of the transportation department, credited the recently passed state House Bill 170 with helping the state secure funding for many projects.

“Sort of totaling up the key projects, that’s $157 million in state commitment, some of that was previously identified as federal, but there’s no certainty,” he said.

“There’s a lot of process of getting federal dollars, so what we’re doing is guaranteeing a path to success, because we know there are state funds”

Included in the local projects is work to widen Post Road and a new Ga. 400 interchange at McGinnis Ferry Road.

Also discussed during the summit was the construction of an Exit 18 where Ga. 400 and Hwy. 369 meet in north Forsyth. Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the area, added that nearby roads would also be improved.

“At Hammond’s Crossing, that’s at Hwys. 369 and 306, and then all the way over to Coal Mountain, which is Hwys. 9 and 369, that 1.7-mile stretch will be four lanes,” Mills said.