LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gary Pirkle knows that the next few years will be tough for Sugar Hill residents.
But after waiting a decade for construction to begin on the biggest bottleneck around, the mayor said residents are excited to learn that work will begin on widening Ga. Highway 20 in northern Gwinnett.
Commissioners approved Tuesday a $31.8 million contract with C.W. Matthews Contracting Company for the job, which widens the highway to four lanes from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard to Burnette Trail.
Along with a recently approved state contract that continues the widening across the Chattahoochee River and into Forsyth County, the project will bring to fruition a dream of expanding the highway to at least four lanes throughout Gwinnett.
"We can't wait for it to happen. We needed it 10 years ago," Pirkle said. "It will help everyone that drives that stretch of Highway 20 get to their destination quicker, but more importantly it will help everyone that lives on Highway 20 get home safely.
"It will be difficult to manage while the construction is taking place and it will change the look of our city with many recognizable homes and businesses being torn down, but in the end the short-term pain will be worth the major gains that the road widening will provide," he added.
Gwinnett Transportation Director Kim Conroy said work would likely begin in about a month and take about three years, although the contract allows for a fourth year to complete the punch list on the project.
Also on Tuesday, commissioners agreed to apply for a $250,000 state grant to fund the widening of another stretch of the highway. The county aims to add a third lane in each direction between Interstate 985 and South Lee Street in Buford, he said, adding that reallocated sales tax funding will make up for the remaining $650,00 needed for the project, which does not require any additional land.