A traffic shift will occur next week on Buford Highway (Hwy. 20 west,) and the opening of all lanes is in sight.
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, a traffic shift will take place on the road between newly constructed portions between Samples and James Burgess roads. Katie Strickland, a spokeswoman with the Georgia Department of Transportation, said the shift was “a good progress mark” for the widening of the road.
“Both lanes are traveling on just one side of the street,” Strickland said. “We are going to split that traffic, and we’re going to have eastbound one way and westbound one way from Samples Road to James Burgess Road. The transition is going to happen at night, so it isn’t going to happen after the afternoon drive.”
Splitting lanes will require some closure and affect driveways. Officials with GDOT are asking for local residents to be patient with the shift.
“Our contractor is going to have to shut down the lanes on the side streets between Samples Road and James Burgess Road, so driveways will be affected,” Strickland said. “Once traffic has kind of cleared out … we’ll open the westbound lane of traffic first, then we’ll move the barrels and the barricades so we have one lane of traffic in each direction.”
Strickland said once the westbound traffic is open, then GDOT will start opening the eastbound side.
A new traffic light at the intersection of Buford Highway and Echols Road is expected to also begin operating on Tuesday.
Strickland said the project would improve traffic between Forsyth and Gwinnett counties. The corridor will fully open on May 31.
“It’s going to be a four-lane corridor from Lawrenceville to Cumming,” she said. “We are going to be letting one lane in each direction go, but by the end of May, we will have striping and the final driving surface finished. So, this is a step in the right direction.”
While the overall project has a completion date of 2020, Strickland said that would be for other work around the road.
“That date is somewhat of a misnomer,” she said. “We’ve allowed our contractor that amount of time on paper in case we have any sod that dies or trees or any kind of mitigation that we had to do with landscaping for them to come back and replace it.”
The Forsyth County project is the last of three parts of a years-long plan to widen Hwy. 20 about 7.5 miles from Samples Road in Cumming across the river to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett.
The other projects included work in Gwinnett and the construction of two bridges over the Chattahoochee River. Both have been completed.
C.W. Matthews Contracting of Marietta is handling all three projects for a total of $62.7 million. Right of way acquisition for the total expanse cost $80.9 million.
Buford Highway is not the only portion of the state highway to be widened.
A project to expand Canton Highway (Hwy. 20 west) from I-575 in Canton to Ga. 400 in Cumming is also being planned. Previously, officials have said construction could start in 2022.