Citizens panel says we need these roads

What is your solution to Gwinnett County traffic congestion? Fewer cars? Toll roads? Public transportation? Bicycles? Flying machines?

Like it or not, the answer is more roads.

Asphalt opponents complain that more roads beget more cars. The truth is we're continuing to add people (and their vehicles) regardless of what road projects are on the drawing board. The quickest, most efficient relief, is to widen and improve existing roads and to build new ones.

We applaud the results released this week by the citizens committee ranking two new road projects as the top priorities for the use of penny sales tax money.

Receiving the No. 1 priority is the Sugarloaf Extension. The well-traveled roadway now ends at Ga. Highway 20 south of Lawrenceville. The proposed extension stretches Sugarloaf another five miles to Ga. Highway 316. That project would cost $85 million.

The committee's next road priority was to pick up at Ga. 316 where the Sugarloaf Extension would end and build an 11-mile road that would connect with Peachtree Industrial Boulevard at a cost of $267 million.

The two projects would complete a Gwinnett traffic loop connecting Sugarloaf Parkway with Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The new roads would alleviate congestion on other thoroughfares.

Part of this project mirrors the path of the once-heralded, now-defunct Northern Arc - a limited access highway that would have circled the top of metro Atlanta. Much of the Arc's path in Gwinnett County has been kept free of development, thus mitigating property acquisition costs for the road.

We all want to get there faster. The sooner these roads are constructed, the sooner our existing thoroughfares will see some relief.

It's still quite a ways off. Engineering, property acquisition and construction will take years. But the citizen's committee has taken a big step in getting us headed in the right direction.