Ga. 20 project moves forward

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A new Sugar Hill street will help connect people to a widened Ga. Highway 20, when the project begins next year.

Gwinnett officials signed off on an agreement with the city this week that creates a solution to an issue with Burnette Trail created by the long-awaited project. Instead of having to deal with the slope issues created by the new connection, the new road will allow officials to close Burnette Trail at Ga. 20, but give residents of the road a tie in to the highway, said Deputy Transportation Director Alan Chapman.

The city already had plans to build the road on city-owned property, he said, so the agreement to complete it by the end of August next year has no cost to the county.

Also this week, county officials moved forward on the process of buying land for the widening, which is years in the making.

Commissioners agreed to pay Sugar Hill $251,572 for 1.358 acres of right of way and 0.788 acres of construction easement needed for a sediment basin to control erosion during the project.

Another purchase was for less property, but the price tag is much higher due to the impact of a business along the highway. Commissioners signed off on the $775,000 deal for 0.206 acres of right of way and 0.041 acres of temporary easement. The money also pays for changes needed to the business's building and parking, sign relocations and other damages caused by the project, Chapman said.

In addition, commissioners approved the beginning of condemnation proceedings for two parcels, where owners have not been able to come to an agreement on the price. The land needed was appraised at a value of $173,060 for both, County Attorney Van Stephens said, but the sale will likely be determined by the courts.

While the Georgia Department of Transportation is responsible for the long-awaited widening, county officials agreed to coordinate the land acquisitions, paid for with state funds.

Chapman said the acquisition is complete on all but 19 of the 189 parcels needed for the work. The process should be complete in the next two months, he said, on time for the construction contract scheduled to be procured early next year.

"I know we are all going to be excited when we can say ... the project is officially moving forward," Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said, as the board signed on to the moves Tuesday.