Officials revamp Sugarloaf extension

LAWRENCEVILLE - Changes to the Sugarloaf Parkway extension, now under construction south of Lawrenceville, will improve environmental factors and help buffer neighbors.

The moves cost $455,025.36 in a change to the design contract with Precision Planning approved by commissioners last week. But about half of those costs will be recouped in the construction, said Deputy Transportation Director Alan Chapman.

Designers reworked the plan to include some new stream buffer requirements from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and some modifications in the retaining walls could save $250,000 in construction, Chapman said.

Extra dirt on the construction site enabled crews to build privacy berms, blocking the view and noise from the road from nearby residents.

Chapman said the berms were added in spots where the county owned enough land to put them in without cutting down trees.

"I'm thrilled," said Rebecca Branstetter, who asked for the berm when she learned about how noisy a road could become. "With the extra dirt it was not as expensive a way to take care of the problem."

Branstetter's neighborhood consists of mostly homes on large lots and an abundance of trees. She said county officials have delivered on their promises of being as unobtrusive as possible, making the extension similar to Ronald Reagan Parkway with land surrounding it instead of development.

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said he has heard from constituents happy with the work. "It sounds like it was a necessary change," he said.

Crews are working on the first section of the extension, which would continue the road from its current terminus at Grayson Highway to New Hope Road. That construction is expected to be complete next year, and crews are gearing up now to begin the second section to continue the extension to Martins Chapel Road.

A third two-mile section is expected to complete the route to Ga. Highway 316 near Dacula.

Commissioners also agreed to begin condemnation proceedings on three parcels needed to construct the second stretch of the road, which was approved last month.

Officials said lawyers were not able to come to an agreement with landowners on the price, which the county estimates is worth about $1.7 million for about 27.5 acres of right of way and easements.