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Highway 78 median work delayed again

LAWRENCEVILLE - An oft-delayed project that will change a reversible lane system into a median on U.S. Highway 78 has been slowed again.

Tree clearing and other initial work was set to begin today, but has been delayed for an undetermined amount of time while workers finish marking easements, Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

But the project is moving forward, despite the delay in clearing the land.

"They're still out there working as we speak," Evermore Community Improvement District director Brett Harrell said Tuesday. "I don't really think this is much of a hiccup at all."

Harrell said he expects clearing to begin by next week. A groundbreaking planned for Friday - where officials will cut the cord on one of the strings of red Xs and green arrows that mark the reversible lanes - will go on as planned.

"We're going to break ground before we break ground now," Pope said.

Workers have been marking and moving utilities since July, but easement marking began this week, she said.

The $31.5 million project is expected to be completed in November of 2009. It has been planned for more than a decade.

In addition to converting the reversible lane to a median, the road will be widened and sidewalks will be added. New signs, lighting and landscaping will be part of the project, as well.

The project will be done in four phases, each of which is expected to take about six months. The first will go from the Gwinnett County line to East Park Place. The second phase will continue to Killian Hill Road, the third will go to Highpoint Road and the last one will end at Ga. Highway 124.

SideBar: If you go

' What: U.S. Highway 78 groundbreaking

' When: Friday at 1 p.m.

' Where: Mountain East Shopping Center at 5295 U.S. Highway 78