ARC PLAN 2040: Local road projects make cut

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Many of Gwinnett's much anticipated road projects could come even without the billions expected to come through a regional sales tax up for a vote next year.

Some big ticket items made the Atlanta Regional Commission's 30-year planning document, which was approved last week, preparing the way for possible state or federal funding.

According to Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, the list is small, compared to years past, as funding has been dwindling.

"Fuel tax revenues are declining and fewer federal tax dollars will be available for transportation, at least for the foreseeable future," an email from Nash and county officials said. "Less federal funding highlights the fact that state and local governments must consider other sources of revenue to make mobility improvements."

But still, the transportation plan has earmarks for the widening of Ga. Highway 20 through Sugar Hill, a continuous flow intersection at U.S. Highway 78 and Ga. Highway 124, and a proposed second extension of Sugarloaf Parkway from where another extension is under construction at Ga. Highway 316 through Dacula to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.

While the funding for many of the hoped-for transit lines wasn't listed, a Gwinnett light rail alternatives analysis was part of the list, which is required to meet federal regulations for air quality.

Another highlight to the list is the extension of managed lanes along Interstate 85, where the current high occupancy vehicle lanes are being converted to high occupancy toll lanes. Another project would extend that to Ga. Highway 211 in Braselton.

Two portions of Buford Highway are in line for widening -- Sawnee Avenue to Ga. Highway 347 and Old Peachtree Road to Sugarloaf Parkway -- while other items would widen Pleasant Hill Road from Howell Ferry Road to the Chattahoochee River and Jimmy Carter Boulevard from Buford Highway to Peachtree Industrial. Peachtree Parkway is also slated for widening on the list.

Another project would extend the Western Gwinnett Bikeway along Peachtree Industrial from Pleasant Hill to Rogers Bridge Road, and the list contains frontage roads along U.S. 78 in Snellville between Ga. 124 and Ga. 84. A connector between West Liddell Road and Club Drive also made the list.

Nash, who is a member of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said Plan 2040 is centered around increased mobility, fostering a healthy, educated, well-trained and safe population promoting places to live with easy access to jobs and services, improving energy efficiency while preserving the environment and identifying approaches to economic recovery.

Incentives for communities to reach performance standards include transportation funding and priority status for the Livable Centers Initiative, a program that has funded many of the county's and local community improvement districts' revitalization efforts.