Highway 78 tax district to fund parallel roads

LAWRENCEVILLE - Members of the Highway 78 Community Improvement District have authorized spending about $14 million for road projects that they hope will ease traffic woes along the corridor.

Brett Harrell, the district's director, said the CID plans to build two parallel roads to U.S. Highway 78 to eliminate some of the many driveways that empty into the road.

One, an extension of Paxton Lane, will extend to the Yellow River Game Ranch. That will remove five curb cuts, Harrell said, and make travel safer.

"Every 20 feet, people are coming in and out of driveways," he said.

That project will cost an estimated $758,750 for 1,400 feet of pavement and will be paid with federal funds. Harrell said it will improve access to businesses along that strip. Construction is expected to begin in 2007 and finish in 2009.

Another parallel road, from Rockbridge Road to Park Place Boulevard, will extend half a mile behind the empty Cub Foods and provide access to several restaurants and a lighting business and cell phone store.

That road is estimated to cost $1.1 million with completion in 2009.

Additionally, money will be spent on a pedestrian bridge across the Yellow River. Harrell said there are foot paths there, but with the amount of traffic on the road, they are exceedingly dangerous. The pedestrian bridge would line up with sidewalks that are being added to the corridor.

Harrell said it is important to minimize the impact of construction on the projects so people continue to travel the road.

"We don't want people to detour," he said. "If they detour, we go out of business."

The CID will also be spending money for a study of the Park Place Boulevard area, what Harrell called Gwinnett's western gateway and an entry point for the CID.

The 2.5-mile study will extend from McGee Road in Snellville to Killian Hill Road in the county. Harrell said it will be similar to studies that are being conducted along the Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Killian Hill corridors with the Gwinnett Village CID.

"We'll look at the inventory of existing land uses, streets and roads, parks and greenspace, what businesses do well, what businesses are struggling, what may be missing," Harrell said.

The area has offices, industrial parks, mom and pop stores, big box retail and all sorts of housing, Harrell said, and is an ideal location that for some reason has had trouble keeping retailers.

Harrell said a group of local residents organized to convince the Wal-Mart to stay, and he hopes those same residents will work together for this study.

"It's just over the line in Gwinnett, it's almost no man's land," Harrell said. "It's not part of Stone Mountain, it's not part of Snellville. It fell in the middle and nobody claimed it as their own. We're going to claim it. ... It's so attractive, it ought to be an absolute strong node on the corridor, it ought to be our gem."