Roads are among Cherokee County’s biggest challenges, with 1,300 miles of county roads to maintain and improve, in order to meet the growing demand. It’s equally important to work with the state on improvements to our state highways.
Using state grant funds in 2022, we repaved 12 miles of county roads, including sections of Arnold Mill, Bells Ferry, Hickory, Kellogg Creek, Beavers and Johnson Brady roads. Another 13 miles were repaved using special-purpose local-option sales tax funds, including roads in the Creekside, Middlebrook, BridgeMill, Lovingood, Sturbridge and Eagle Watch neighborhoods.
Besides the usual maintenance work last year, the Cherokee County public works team also repaved Wrights Mill and Upper Bethany roads, and rebuilt Little Road, as well as the stream crossing and related section of Wyatt Road.
Reconstruction of the second bridge on Union Hill Road was completed, as well as the bridge on Transart Parkway. Roundabouts were completed to replace inadequate intersections on Woodstock Road at Victory Drive, Holbrook Campground Road at Birmingham Highway, and Wiley Bridge at Cox Road. The intersection of East Cherokee Drive at South Holly Springs Road was expanded, and we built the first phase of the Towne Lake Parkway multiuse trail. Although we’d rather leave state highway work to the state, we expanded the intersection of Highway 140 at East Cherokee Drive. It’s the first of several county-led projects planned on Highway 140, to keep it functioning until the state can rebuild the road in 2035.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) continues working to six-lane Highway 20 from Canton to Cumming. GDOT did the toughest work in the toughest section, from Interstate 575 to Scott Road, and should finish that section this year. Work on the second section, from Scott Road to Union Hill Road, is scheduled to run into 2024, but might be finished this year. GDOT then plans to shift to the Cumming end of the highway, completing the sections between Union Hill Road and the Forsyth County line in 2026. Then, the department’s plan is to begin a project to four-lane Highway 20, west of Canton and into Bartow County.
Using state funds, we will repave 14 miles of county roads this year, including in the Orange Shoals, Northlake, Tamarack, Crabapple Springs, West Ridge, Copper Creek, Emerald Forest, Kingston Square, BridgeMill and Towne Lake Hills North neighborhoods. We might expand this list using local funds.
Other major county road projects planned for 2023 include roundabouts on Union Hill at Lower Union Hill Road and on Sugar Pike at Batesville Road; reconstruction of Hames Road, including a roundabout at Jett Road; reconstruction/expansion of the three-way intersection of Kellogg Creek Road, Woodstock Road and Victory Drive; and reconstruction of Rhine Road and Shoal Creek Road. The in-house public works team plans improvements to Rampley Trail, Huey Barnes Lane and Mount Carmel Church Lane.
We also hope to begin construction on two more Highway 140 projects this year. One is a county-funded expansion of its intersection with Hickory and Batesville roads. Another is a joint county-state project to add turn lanes in the section along Avery and Scott roads.
This year, we hope the state begins construction on the long-awaited replacement of the Bells Ferry Road bridge at Little River, and to four-lane Bells Ferry north to Victoria Road. Although Bells Ferry is no longer a state highway, GDOT generously has agreed to pay for the construction costs if the county buys the necessary right of way.
– Harry Johnston is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners. He’s a retired CPA and accounting manager, and a former district commissioner. Email him