Officials celebrate new stretch of McGinnis Ferry Road

SUWANEE -- A 1.6-mile extension has made all the difference in Suwanee, officials said Tuesday, celebrating a new stretch of McGinnis Ferry Road.

The stimulus-funded road opened last month.

"(Interstate) 85 divides us, and it really challenges us to get across," Commissioner Shirley Lasseter said, adding that the road opens up her drive to her daughter's house. "This is great for me personally but also for the people of Gwinnett County."

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, leaders of Gwinnett and Georgia's transportation department extolled the county for being "shovel ready" with a list of projects to qualify for stimulus projects in 2009.

"With the assistance of our Gwinnett sales tax ... we've been able to look at delivery as our No. 1 goal," said Brian Allen, who retired as Gwinnett transportation director last week. "We were really pleased to avail ourselves ... of about $80 million in stimulus projects."

Not only does the extension give an alternate to the Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, where traffic backs up at the I-85 interchange, but it also included an extension to Northbrook Parkway. That short stretch creates a parallel road along I-85, allowing people to avoid the interstate all together for local trips.

"This will be a pressure relief valve," for traffic in Suwanee, City Councilman Dan Foster said.