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Sugarloaf/316 work under way

Photo: Karl L. Moore. Cars travel on Ga. Highway 316 near where construction has begun for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension. A bridge is being built over Ga. 316 for the parkway.

Photo: Karl L. Moore. Cars travel on Ga. Highway 316 near where construction has begun for the Sugarloaf Parkway extension. A bridge is being built over Ga. 316 for the parkway.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- For years the construction of an extension to Sugarloaf Parkway has been little more than a path through the woods, something drivers have had little to worry about.

But now, commuters on Ga. Highway 316 can see the work in progress, allowing them to anticipate the opening but also worry about how the construction could affect traffic.

"You can see columns up out of the ground," Gwinnett Transportation Deputy Director Alan Chapman said. "They are making a good bit of progress on it and on the project as a whole."

Contractor E.R. Snell had a bridge crew feed up earlier than expected, so they began work on the footings and columns, Chapman said, adding that other crews will be out for a "full mobilization" on the bridge this fall.

The big construction work will be later this year, when some of the beams will be lifted into place, he said.

But restrictions have been placed on the work to ensure that traffic continues to flow. The contractor can only close a lane of traffic between noon and 2 p.m. or after 9 p.m., and beams can be set between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and after 9 p.m.

"That should be able to allow traffic to keep moving," Chapman said. "We're going to be real careful with the morning and afternoon rush (hours). ... There will at some point be some impacts to traffic."

The Sugarloaf Parkway extension has been under construction in segments, two of which have already opened to traffic. The final two pieces, which extend the road from Martins Chapel Road to Ga. 316, are expected to complete by the second half of 2012. The pieces under construction cost a total of about $30 million.