Officials break ground on projects to widen Ga. Highway 20 through Sugar Hill. Pictured from left to right are state Rep. Josh Clark, R-Buford, former Gwinnett Commission Chairman Wayne Hill, current Gwinnett Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, former Gwinnett Commissioner Marion Buice, Gwinnett Commissioner John Heard, Forsyth County Commission Chairman Pete Amos, State Transportation Board Member Rudy Bowen, Gwinnett Commissioners Tommy Hunter and Jace Brooks and Sugar Hill Councilman Steve Edwards. (Staff Photo: Camie Young)
SUGAR HILL — Securing state funding for a transformational road project for northern Gwinnett was one of Wayne Hill’s biggest accomplishments during his last term as Gwinnett Commission chairman.
But more than a decade after he received the promise, Hill wondered if he would be alive to see Ga. Highway 20 as a four-lane highway throughout Gwinnett.
“It’s well over due,” Hill said, after participating in a ground-breaking for the long-awaited last piece to that promise in Sugar Hill.
“It’s been a long, long time,” said Charlotte Nash, the current commission chairwoman who said she thought the project was on its way before she retired as county administrator at the end of Hill’s tenure in 2004. “State route 20 has been a challenging project. It’s going to be a wonderful road when it’s all complete.”
Friday’s ceremony marked the beginning of two projects, which will be completed side-by-side. With construction contracts totalling $42 million, county officials will oversee the widening of the road from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to the county line, while the state DOT is working to complete a dual two-lane bridge across the Chattahoochee River.
Forsyth County Chairman Pete Amos celebrated as well, and said work should be under way this fall on a third project that will allow the four-lane route to continue all the way to Ga. Highway 400 near Cumming.
“If you’ve ever tried to drive between Buford and Cumming, in the afternoons, it’s terrible,” Amos said. “It’s one of the great east-west connectors we need.”
During Friday’s ceremony, Commissioner John Heard took the opportunity to blast officials for doing away with a proposed Northern Arc, a plan to add an east-west connector around northern metro Atlanta, which was killed in the last decade “by political agendas.”
“We have east-west challenges that, while this certainly helps it does not meet (them),” Heard said. “Keep progressing forward with great opportunity like this to keep mobility, to keep prosperity, to keep economic opportunity for north Georgia.”
Sugar Hill, Councilman Steve Edwards said the Ga. 20 widening will provide a greater economic opportunity as local officials concentrate on a new downtown area.
While many businesses have been disrupted by the land purchased for the road and the construction, which is expected to take up to three years in all, Edwards said his commute to Ga. 400 will be “beautiful” once the work is complete.
“Ga. 20 has always been kind of a choke point for us,” Edwards said, pointing to the tip of the new City Hall across the highway. “It’s going to change the look and feel of Sugar Hill.”