More road funds OK'd

LAWRENCEVILLE - Just days after transportation officials awarded the contract for the long-awaited median on U.S. Highway 78, officials laid the foundation Tuesday for even more improvements worth $14 million.

The Gwinnett Board of Commissioners approved agreements between the state Department of Transportation and Evermore Community Improvement District for five improvements, including three parallel streets to improve traffic flow.

While preliminary engineering has not begun, the agreements set the framework to use $10.1 million in federal highway money, along with contributions of $980,000 from the state, $1,750,860 from the county and $1,302,186 from the CID.

"This was basically the authorization to put in action the last 31⁄2 years of work and planning," said Brett Harrell, director of the CID, which was put into place to help businesses along the

7-mile corridor from Snellville to Stone Mountain. "Today was the affirmation of all that work."

Last week, the DOT awarded a $31.5 million contract for the median project, which will also include expansions of the highway and elimination of the reversible lane system. The CID contributed $4.8 million to that contract to be used for landscaping and other improvements.

Tuesday's agreements set in motion five other CID-designed projects:

•A pedestrian bridge over the Yellow River

•A parallel road from Rockbridge Road to Davis Road

•Realignment of the intersection of U.S. 78 and McGee Road

•A parallel road from Parkwood Road to Britt Drive

•A parallel road from Hewatt Road to Parkwood Road

Harrell said the first two projects may be completed as DOT crews work on the median, which is scheduled for completion in October 2009, but the other three projects may take longer.

"Mostly this is for local traffic," Harrell said of the projects included in Tuesday's action. "It's to allow people to move from business to business or work to home."

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, who represents the area, agreed that the changes would improve traffic and business.

"In three years, that road is going to look completely different," Beaudreau said. "That project is going to be a wonderful boon for that area."

Commissioners on Tuesday also:

•Rejected proposals for a community wireless broadband initiative. Bidders did not meet the qualifications required by the county, and officials said they would scale back the scope of the initiative, which was devised by the governor to allow free and paid Internet access to residents and help draw businesses to the area.

•Approved the purchase of 31.34 acres of land along Ronald Reagan Parkway for $127,000. Community Services Director Phil Hoskins said the land would eventually be used as part of a greenway to connect Ronald Reagan Park to Bethesda Park.

•Approved a change order to increase the contract for construction of a new police training facility by $152,870.62. An official said the increase was due to changes in the firing range. The revised contract amount is $20.58 million.