DOT open house brings 350 people

SUGAR HILL - Gwinnett residents carefully considered aerial photographs and maps of the proposed road widening project at the Georgia Department of Transportation public information open house Tuesday.

The DOT's four-year plan is to widen the stretch of road from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to James Burgess Road in Forsyth County. It also includes widening the bridge over the Chattahoochee River where rush hour traffic backs up.

The tentative plans are to have designs completed by early 2008 and to have construction completed by 2010, said Georgia DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope.

"What you see is a rough draft," Pope said about the photographs hanging in the Sugar Hill Community Center. "In 12 months we hope to have a final version taking into account public input, federal law regulations and sound engineering principles."

The proposed plan drew the interest of the community, bringing in about 350 citizens in the span of three hours.

One part of the project that has received positive comments is the proposed sidewalks along the road and bridge. Other residents have voiced concern about losing part or all of their property.

Buford resident Catherine Sudderth is one of the 54 homeowners the DOT will have to relocate because the extended road slices through her 2-acre property.

"It was surprising to me because I never knew they would come that close," she said. "I have it up for sale, so I hope someone buys it before the beginning of next year."

Sudderth has been in the house 40 years and her children grew up there, but she said since Ga. Highway 20 has such bad traffic she'll be glad to move.

Pope said Gwinnett County officials have been working very closely with the Georgia DOT and have even put forth funding to speed the project's progress.

"Some of the (county) money is paying for engineering to get things done before the DOT would have been able to," said Capital Program Director Alan Chapman. "Coming into the project allows progress and allows the county a seat at the table."

The public is encouraged to comment on the plans and can review the project at www.dot.state.ga.us. Click on public outreach from the list of featured links. The displays and plans will be available for review for 10 days after today at the Georgia Department of Transportation Area 5 Office located in Lawrenceville at 410 Hurricane Shoals Road NW.