Work to begin soon on U.S. 78 project

SNELLVILLE - It has been three years in the planning stages, but according to Executive Director Brett Harrell, work on the U.S. Highway 78 median construction project will begin any day.

What began as a $14 million project is now a $30 million undertaking.

"This is the largest traffic safety and design project in the history of the Georgia DOT," Harrell told Snellville mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and City Council members Monday night.

Contractor bids will be opened and the bid awarded April 20. Harrell estimated that the winning contractor will take about 60 days to mobilize, but utility work along the 6.65-mile stretch is set to begin within the next few days.

The project includes construction of a median down the middle of U.S. 78 from East Park Place to Ga. Highway 124, extensive streetscaping, installation of 5-foot-wide sidewalks and eight state-of-the-art fiber optic traffic cameras. The project is planned to take place in four stages, with each stage taking about 6 months.

The finished project will include 15 signalized intersections within the 6.65-mile stretch. Cameras will monitor volume along U.S. 78 and coordinate synchronization of traffic lights based on that data. This technology accounts for much of the added cost of the project.

During the construction phases, motorists will be able to monitor progress through radio broadcasts and e-mail notification. Reversible traffic lanes will remain in effect in each of the four phases along U.S. 78 until construction begins on that phase.

When the project is finished, about $2 million will have been spent on new trees, shrubs and flowers. New pedestrian striping at each intersection, and even a pedestrian "refuge island" will have been constructed at the intersection of U.S. 78 and Ga. 124. Signal lights at 13 of the 15 intersections will be hung on decorative black mast arms.

Both the GA DOT and Gwinnett county will have access to the traffic data generated by the new closed-circuit cameras.