Two major road improvement projects are moving forward to help alleviate traffic issues on Bells Ferry Road and Highway 20.
After many years of planning, construction began in June on the Highway 20 upgrade between Canton and Cumming. The project will expand the road to six lanes, divided by a 20-foot median. The budgeted cost is $550 million, fully funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation, with more than half of that spent to purchase right-of-way.
Traffic signals will remain at the currently signalized intersections. Most others will become reduced-crossing-U-turn (RCUT) intersections.
At the RCUTs, traffic will be allowed to exit the highway to the right and left, and to U-turn. But, traffic entering the highway only will be able to turn right. Those wishing to travel in the opposite direction will need to U-turn at the next intersection or designated U-turn site. Some of the U-turn sites will be wide enough to accommodate tractor-trailers.
The first phase, under construction now, is from I-575 Exit 19 to Scott Road. The second phase, from Scott Road to Union Hill Road, is scheduled to begin construction next summer. Work then will shift to the eastern section, from Highway 369 to Cumming, beginning fall of 2022. The last phase, from Union Hill Road to Highway 369, will begin construction in the fall of 2023. Each phase will take about three years, so they will overlap. Traffic will remain open throughout the project.
A good description of the project can be found at http://www.dot.ga.gov/BS/Projects/SpecialProjects/SR20Improvements/I575NCorners.
The Georgia Department of Transportation also has released a conceptual plan to rebuild Highway 20 west of Canton to the already-four-laned section in Bartow County. The concept plan calls for a median-divided four-lane highway, with multi-lane roundabouts at the following major intersections:
• The current “Vee,” where Highway 20 intersects Old Highway 5, just south of the connector road from I-575 Exit 16
• Butterworth Road
• Riverbend Way (Knox Elementary)
• Highway 108 in Sutallee
The roundabouts would eliminate all traffic signals in that Highway 20-west corridor, except the one at the former Teasley Middle School (now ACE Academy). Other intersections would be RCUTs.
The schedule isn’t firm yet, but construction is expected to begin soon after the Canton-to-Cumming project is completed in 2026.
In a joint state-county project, the county continues to buy right-of-way to replace the narrow Bells Ferry Road bridge over Little River, and to extend the four lanes of Bells Ferry Road northward to Victoria Road. The state will pay for construction, expected to begin next year on the bridge, and in 2022 on the four-lane portion of the project.
As always, I’m interested in your thoughts about these matters. Please email me at email@example.com.
– Harry Johnston is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners.