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Surprise: Traffic relief
Road across dam reopens weeks early
Buford Dam Rd opens 1 JD
Jamie Bagley, left, and Jeremy Bagley remove the last of the barricades that had been blocking motorists from Buford Dam Road. The road opened Friday afternoon, weeks ahead of schedule. - photo by Jim Dean

Just in time for the evening commute, Buford Dam Road at Lake Lanier reopened Friday, two weeks ahead of schedule.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had shut down a 2-mile stretch of the corridor, from Samples Road to East Bank Park on the other side of the lake in Gwinnett County, in order to repave it.

“Because the road was closed to traffic, the paving project was completed ahead of the Nov. 4 reopening date,” said Chris Lovelady, assistant operations project manager.

Lovelady thanked commuters for their cooperation in using the detours and “both Gwinnett and Forsyth counties for their assistance.”

To get across the lake while the road was closed, drivers had to take either Hwy. 20, to the south, or Hwy. 369, to the north.

Eastbound traffic snarled along Hwy. 20, with back-ups at times stretching for miles.

While motorists who normally traveled Buford Dam Road noticed increased travel time during the shutdown, businesses along the route were hit hard.

Eddie Akbarshahi, owner of Buford Dam Quick Stop at Buford Dam and Samples/Lanier Beach South roads, hopes he can recoup the cost of lost business.

“We have to try to put some promotions to get our customers back,” he said. “We have a lot of loyal customers that I’m sure ... will come back from the other side of the town.”

Akbarshahi said he didn’t think the repaving was necessary as the road wasn’t in bad shape, but he called the early reopening “good news.”

“I’m happy about it. That will help us get back on our feet,” he said.

Prior to the road closing at the lake, traffic was disrupted for weeks as Forsyth County repaved Buford Dam Road between Sanders and Samples roads.

Crews also remade the intersection where Akbarshahi's store sits, adding turn lanes and straightening the severe angle of the crossing.

For now, however, the 10,000 motorists who use the road every day will have a break. Until winter, that is.

The next project likely will begin in February or March when the city of Cumming works to widen the road between Hwy. 9 and Sanders Road.