Portion of widened Ga. 20 to open soon

LAWRENCEVILLE - The delays began almost as soon as the project did, but a transportation spokesman said a portion of Ga. Highway 20's new four-lane section should be open in just more than a month.

Two years ago, the Georgia Department of Transportation approved a $26.8 million contract to widen a 4.1-mile stretch through Grayson, but the project began slowly because of "extensive utility relocations," said DOT spokesman Mark McKinnon.

The contractor missed the original project deadline, which was Aug. 31, but McKinnon said the work is nearing completion from Plantation Boulevard to Ga. Highway 84.

There, crews are working to place curb and gutter, and within two weeks, they will begin placing the "final topping." McKinnon said that paving should take about three weeks, and then all lanes will be opened to traffic.

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said he has been promised by the contractor that the completion is a priority and could be done even quicker.

"Once the project got rolling, it made very good time," he said. "Everyone has done everything they can to get this done as soon as possible."

The rest of the project, which continues the widening to Cooper/Ozora Road, will take longer, McKinnon said.

"Our goal is to have it completed in early (2009) but that depends on how the weather holds out," he said. "We cannot do much paving when the temperatures drop below 50 degrees."

Gwinnett Transportation Director Brian Allen said he is optimistic about the opening of the Plantation Boulevard to Ga. 84 stretch.

"Like with anything else, there are delays that are unforeseen," he said. "They've done pretty well since they've gotten (the utilities finished)."

The construction is the first of three planned projects which will create a four-lane Ga. 20 throughout Gwinnett.

Local transportation officials are currently working to buy land to continue the widening from Cooper/Ozora Road to the Walton County line. Allen said he hoped to see a construction contract awarded by the end of the year.

For the route in Sugar Hill, plans are in the works.

McKinnon did have good news about the widening of Ga. Highway 120 in Lawrenceville, which was kicked off at the same time as the Ga. 20 project.

There, the remaining lanes of Duluth Highway westbound are expected to open Friday.

Since the eastbound lanes from Riverside Parkway to Sugarloaf Parkway opened a few weeks ago, crews are just days away from opening the road entirely.