Project set to relieve congestion
Widening approved this week

LAWRENCEVILLE - In a matter of months, drivers on Pleasant Hill Road will soon be able to motor under Buford Highway instead of getting caught at a traffic light.

And while that state improvement project wraps up, county officials are beginning another one to clear the way to Duluth.

An $8.4 million construction contract was approved this week to widen Pleasant Hill to six lanes from Old Norcross Road to Buford Highway.

"It was identified because it is one of the most heavily trafficked four-lane roads in Gwinnett County," Gwinnett Deputy Transportation Director Alan Chapman said, saying 58,000 cars a day have been counted on the route. "The congestion requires six lanes."

The widened road will match with the six lanes of Pleasant Hill in front of Gwinnett Place Mall, one of the county's most established commercial areas.

But development on the eastern stretch makes the widening even more relevant, area resident David Kesler said, speaking of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter, apartments and other businesses in the corridor.

"It will help, but there will still be a lot of traffic. That will continue to increase as our population increases," said Kesler, the former director of the Gwinnett Place Neighborhood Alliance. "Considering that growth will continue, (the widening) is a proactive step to address it. That's certainly needed."

The county project, which will be constructed by E.R. Snell Contractor Inc., also includes a center raised median, sidewalks and a multi-use path connecting Shorty Howell Park to an existing path along North Berkeley Lake Road.

There will also be an auxiliary lane on the south side of Pleasant Hill from Steve Reynolds Boulevard to North Berkeley Lake Road.

According to Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope, a construction crew is ahead of schedule on the $34.6 million project at Buford Highway, which includes tunneling Pleasant Hill under the highway and railroad tracks. The project is expected to be completed by January, but Pope said the contractor hopes to open the tunnel within the next two months.