By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Widening on way for Hwy. 20 stretch
20 narrows 2 JD
Drivers on Hwy. 20 have passed this sign on an old building near James Burgess Road for several years. - photo by Jim Dean
From the window of his shop at the corner of Samples Road and Hwy. 20, Tony Leo said he can see traffic stopped up in the afternoons, and “it’s brutal.”

“The worst night is Friday night and the traffic will be backed up to the [Chattahoochee] River,” said Leo, owner of Mama Leo’s Pizza. “For us, delivering pizzas is a challenge Friday nights.”

His crew has learned several back roads to avoid Hwy. 20 and get pizzas out to homes still hot and fresh from their Publix plaza location, he said.

But in a few years, the main road may be their best mode of travel.

A project to widen the busy corridor lurched forward recently with approval of its environmental assessment.

The OK from the Federal Highway Administration and the National Parks Service is a “significant step in advancing the project forward toward construction,” according to a news release from Forsyth County’s government.

The three-phase project, still several years from construction, will widen about 7.2 miles highway, from Samples Road to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Gwinnett County.

John Cunard, the county’s director of engineering, said in a statement that the state Department of Transportation should authorize the right-of-way funding for this project as early as this month.”

“Even though construction is not expected to begin for several years, we are certainly making progress,” he said.

The DOT could begin construction on the three-phase road widening in 2015, spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

Cunard estimated the work would take about two and a half to three years to complete.

The section between Samples and James Burgess roads is being designed by Forsyth County, though the DOT will handle right of way acquisition and construction.

While Leo said the widening project is needed, he wasn’t looking forward to the confusion of construction.

“[But] in the long run, it’s certainly well worth it,” he said.