LAWRENCEVILLE - As drivers sat in traffic along Ga. Highway 20 Tuesday, a few honked in frustration.
But a crowd of officials and politicians only heard Hallelujahs, as they broke ground on the extension of Sugarloaf Parkway, which is expected to relieve traffic south of Lawrenceville.
"It's all about getting people where they want to go quicker," Commissioner Bert Nasuti said at the ceremony, just across from Sugarloaf's current end at Ga. 20. "The road can't be built soon enough."
Road builders from E.R. Snell Contractors will soon clear the path for the first section of the road, which will connect to New Hope Road. That $23.5 million, 2.7-mile project is expected to take about two years, but officials plan to move forward on design and land purchases to continue the road to Ga. Highway 316.
In the future, officials have plans to continue the limited-access thoroughfare north to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard - a road primarily along the path of the now-defunct Northern Arc which would create a loop around Lawrenceville.
"We're going to put our pedal to the metal on these things," Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said. "This is the very beginning of a project that has much larger goals."
Beaudreau, whose third district encompasses much of the extension, said it was important for him to see that the road was built with entrances and exits, limiting access and development along the corridor.
"There will not be nail salons every 250 yards," Beaudreau said. "I didn't want a proliferation of traffic-causing uses."
While officials quickly turned the plans for the Sugarloaf extension to Ga. 316 from concept to construction in only about two years time, the path to Peachtree Industrial is less certain. For that phase, county officials are counting on the state's help to secure funding and control of land purchased for the Northern Arc.
"The county has done an outstanding job with the commitment they've made in transportation," State Transportation Board member Rudy Bowen said. "We're trying to do all we can in support of moving traffic in the region."