Sugarloaf extension ahead of schedule

LAWRENCEVILLE - Crews are blasting along in the first phase of Gwinnett's planned extension to Sugarloaf Parkway.

Despite recent rains, crews are ahead of schedule so far on the first segment from Ga. Highway 20 to New Hope Road, south of Lawrenceville, said Hank Collins, a staffer for Moreland Altobelli, which is serving as the program manager for the county's sales tax transportation projects.

The route has been cleared, and only a few of the 26 structures in the road's path remain, Collins said.

So far, the only concrete poured has been for a couple of culverts to protect streams, but Collins said passers-by will see the roadbed emerge by the end of the year.

For now, the concentration is on blasting away rock near the Chandler Road portion. The rock will be reused, when the contractor sets up a temporary rock quarry along the road to break it into small enough pieces to be used for the sub-base of the road.

"By the end of this year, there's a good possibility you'll see pavement on this end," Collins said at the Grayson Highway end of the project.

In the meantime, Gwinnett Deputy Transportation Director Alan Chapman said the right of way plans for the second segment - from New Hope to Bramlett Shoals Road - were received this week.

Also this week, commissioners approved the shuffling of some sales tax funds to give an $8 million boost to the entire Sugarloaf project, which Chapman said would be used to acquire land for that second segment.

Officials also received a boost this week, when commissioners formally accepted a $7.4 million federal earmark for the second phase of the extension, which would continue where the first phase ends at Ga. Highway 316 northwest to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. While construction funds have not been identified for the second phase, when it is complete, it will create a loop around Lawrenceville.