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Gwinnett Place to Mall of Georgia bus route, Sugar Hill pedestrian bridge among local projects in federal infrastructure bill

A new local service bus route that will connect the Gwinnett Place area with the Mall of Georgia is one of several Gwinnett County projects that has been included in the federal infrastructure bill unveiled by the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on Monday.

The proposed new route — with an allocation of $5 million — would run from the Mall of Georgia to the transit transfer hub at Gwinnett Place Mall, if approved. That would provide further access to the Mall of Georgia area from other parts of Gwinnett, including Lilburn, Lawrenceville and Peachtree Corners.

In all, there are five projects from the 7th Congressional District — including four from Gwinnett and one from Forsyth County — as well as some projects in the 4th Congressional District included in the bill.

“As the representative for Georgia’s 7th District, one of my top priorities is ensuring that Gwinnett and Forsyth residents are maximizing all available government resources,” U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., said. “For that reason, I was proud to nominate a number of consequential projects to improve mobility and economic development while also building our communities’ wonderful parks and trails.”

In addition to the bus route connecting the Gwinnett Place and Mall of Georgia areas, other Gwinnett projects that have been proposed will be located in Lawrenceville, Sugar Hill and an additional project in the Gwinnett Place area.

The local bus route connecting the Mall of Georgia and the Gwinnett Place area may be one of the biggest local projects included in the bill for at least three main reasons, however.

One is that it will extend Gwinnett County Transit’s local service to the northwest part of the county. The others are that it will connect two of Gwinnett’s key business districts and open up new access to a major shopping destination.

The fact that the transfer hub at Gwinnett Place Mall connects to other routes which go to other parts of Gwinnett means the proposed route will have a broader impact across at least half of the county.

Among the other proposed 7th Congressional projects is a pedestrian bridge that will cross State Route 20 in Sugar Hill. City officials had proposed such a bridge — similar to one recently built over Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners — as part of a development plan unveiled a few years ago.

The proposed allocation for the bridge is $5 million.

Another proposed project is $4.8 million for a Georgia Department of Transportation Park and Ride Lot which would be located at the intersection of State Route 316 and either Collins Industrial Way or Buford Drive.

The fourth proposed project in Gwinnett would be $2 million for a McDaniel Farm Park Connector Multi-Use Path that would run along Commerce Avenue, from the park to Satellite Boulevard near Gwinnett Place Mall.

The other project in the 7th Congressional District — which would be on the Forsyth side of the district — is $3 million for the Big Creek Greenway Phase 2 renovation and replacement project in Cumming.

“I am glad to see five projects in Georgia’s 7th District were accepted for inclusion into the surface reauthorization bill, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to get these important priorities across the finish line,” Bourdeaux said.

The bill also includes a proposed $5 million project to provide bus rapid transit service on U.S. Highway 78 between Snellville and Stone Mountain, in the 4th Congressional District. It also lists $6 million for vehicle acquisition for bus and paratransit service between Snellville and north DeKalb County, which is another 4th Congressional District proposed project.

Gwinnett Tech, Gov. Brian Kemp break ground on new computer information systems, cybersecurity education building

Gwinnett Technical College’s new Computer Information Systems, Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Building was touted as a game changer by Gov. Brian Kemp and college President D. Glen Cannon on Monday.

The governor, Gwinnett Technical College officials and local leaders broke ground for the new building, as well as the expansion of the college’s Building 100. The new building is part of a growing computer sciences-related program at Gwinnett Tech, which is set to add a driver-less and connected vehicles program to its educational offerings in the fall.

“(This) groundbreaking is another major project at Gwinnett Tech,” Kemp told attendees at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We’re unveiling new opportunities for students to learn new skills and to be able to step into that workforce.”

The Computer Information Systems, Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies Building will be three stories tall and have more than 82,000 square feet of space with 29 classrooms, an eSports lab, a networking lab that has a dedicated data center, a new quad, a cybersecurity “war room,” a gaming technologies room and several flexible use rooms that can be used by a variety of programs.

The new building will house computer sciences and gaming.

“Today is truly a milestone for the college,” Cannon said. “We’re going to set the stage for what’s next, not only for Gwinnett Tech, but for the future of work as we’ll come to know it.

“This new building is going to be a launchpad for students to enter careers in current and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality.”

The new facility is expected to help address workforce needs for a technology sector has been growing tremendously in the Gwinnett County and northern Fulton County areas, said Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Greg Dozier.

“The new facility enables the college to expand our cybersecurity program and place more individuals into those roles, as well as the emerging technology sector,” Dozier said.

Kemp added, “It will really help us continue to sell this state to those that want to expand here or move their business here.”

Meanwhile, the renovation of Building 100 — which is the oldest building on the Gwinnett Technical College campus — will include a more than 36,000-square-foot renovation, the repaving of three parking lots, the construction of one new parking lot, a new library and new lab spaces for biology and physics classes, a facelift to its 200 corridor and a new flexible lab that can be used for multiple health sciences disciplines.

The One-Stop student services area will also be expanded and renovated, with an expanded entrance, a facelift for the existing enrollment stations and waiting area and the addition of more enrollment stations. The Student Life Center will get a total overhaul with new gaming stations, new furnishings and a greater seating capacity, additional power and charging stations and the installation of roll-up glass doors that lead to the outside area.

And, the library will get a new entrance from the outside as part of the renovation, in addition to more computer stations, multiple study and spaces, a recording space for instructors and students and the establishment of a Center for Teaching Excellence.

Gwinnett Tech Student Government Association President Chevonne Vincent said the renovations to Building 100 will help create new opportunities and experience for future students at the college.

“New enrollment stations at One Stop will us admit all of those eager minds, new science labs will help us support our ever-needed health care programs, the library will gain more computer stations and a sanctuary of meeting spaces and, when you need a little breather from face-to-face interaction, then the updates to the Student Life Center will give you that great escape,” Vincent said.

“Personally, as a criminal justice student, I’m really excited about the facelift to the CJ classrooms, but that’s just me.”

All in all, officials who spoke at the groundbreaking said the two projects at Gwinnett Tech will have long lasting impacts for the area.

“It will change the lives of our students and our community as we move rapidly into this exponentially changing paradigm of how we use and interact with technology, and explore how these technologies will be harnessed and change the way we work, live and communicate,” Cannon said.

Black man lynched on Lawrenceville Square in 1911 will be remembered during ceremony on Juneteenth

Charles Hale’s life ended in downtown Lawrenceville on April 8, 1911, after a crowd of masked vigilantes stormed the county jail, pointed guns in the faces of the sheriff and deputies and took him in the dark of night.

The mob took Hale — a Black man who had been accused of assaulting a white woman — to a light pole at the corner of Pike and Perry Streets on the Lawrenceville Square, tied a rope around his neck and lynched him, according to an account in The News Herald newspaper.

After he died, Hale’s killers reportedly disappeared into the night, but his body was left hanging from the light pole with a photo being taken that weekend of a crowd of white men and children gathered around. The photo eventually ended up in the Georgia Archives.

More than 110 years after Hale’s murder, his life will be memorialized by local leaders and the Gwinnett Remembrance Coalition with a ceremony on the square from 10 until 11:30 a.m. on June 19, which is also Juneteenth.

Participants in the Soil Collection Ceremony will gather dirt from near the corner where Hale died and collect it in a jar for inclusion in the Equal Justice Initiative’s Community Soil Collection Project, which collects soil from the sites of lynchings as a way to remember the people who were killed during them.

“Digging up soil and preserving it in a special jar for public display is a solemn, symbolic, spiritual way to honor Mr. Hale and to acknowledge his humanity and the trauma, terror, and pain that he must have experienced in his last moments,” Gwinnett Remembrance Coalition officials said in an announcement for the event on social media. “Digging up and preserving the soil is a tangible way of memorializing Mr. Hale, restoring his dignity, and ensuring that he is not forgotten and that he did not die in vain.”

The ceremony will include songs, poetry and narrative readings, invocations from local clergy members and the presentation of proclamations by the Lawrenceville City Council and Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

There is a significance to the date chosen for the ceremony. Juneteenth is the anniversary of slaves in Texas learning they had been freed, which is considered the official end of slavery in the U.S.

The Gwinnett Remembrance Coalition is partnering with the city of Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County government and the Gwinnett Historic Restoration and Preservation Board to hold the ceremony.

Earlier this year, a 1993 memorial to Confederate soldiers was removed from a spot on the square that was only a few yards away from the spot where Hale had been lynched. Prior to that memorial’s removal, there had been calls to not only take it down, but to do something on the Lawrenceville Square to remember the lives of Hale and other Gwinnett County residents who had been the victims of lynchings.

There are at least eight people who are known to have been lynched in Gwinnett County, according to The Lynching Project, which is an effort by University of Georgia students to research and document lynchings that have occurred in the state.