Lawrenceville City Manager Chuck Warbington envisions the city’s College Corridor as being something akin to what people would expect to see at a Hollywood film premiere once it is finished.
The College Corridor project is a new roadway that will connect downtown Lawrenceville, starting just north of the old train depot and connecting to Collins Hill Road right by state Route 316. The goal is to serve as a direct connection between Georgia Gwinnett College and downtown Lawrenceville.
“This is really considered to be a red carpet to the college,” Warbington said. “We want the students, we want the administration, we want the professors to be invited into our downtown so, from the very beginning, this project has been considered to be a red carpet to the college.
“We welcome the school to be a part of what’s happening in the downtown area.”
The College Corridor roadway is far from a finished project at this point. It is in its second phase, and the footprint for the road is easy to see since most of the curbs and some of the lighting posts have already been installed.
Crews are still working on the project at this point, but the asphalt has not yet been poured, however.
But, other than some weather-related issues, the College Corridor project hasn’t had really any setbacks, according to Warbington. It remains on schedule to open in the first quarter of 2021.
In fact, if there is one surprise, so to speak, that city officials have encountered up to now with the project, it’s that it is currently on track to be finished under budget.
“The overall project was a $30 million project,” Warbington said. “That’s right-of-way, all of the property acquisition and then the construction and the design and everything associated with it.
“We’re approaching right around $29 million, so we’re going to be under what we had budgeted for. We’re not out of the woods yet. You know, you (could have) weather delays and some unsuitable soils, which I think we got all of those taken care of but I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be under budget.”
Once the new roadway is open to the public, other work will begin on later stages of the project.
Northdale Road and North Clayton Street diverge from each other where the corridor will begin just north of the train depot. Cul-de-sacs will be installed at both ends of Northdale, as well as the forked off branch of North Clayton, which will still continue south from the College Corridor through the Lawrenceville Square.
Both, Northdale and the forked off branch of North Clayton will be connected to the new roadway through side streets that converge on a roundabout on the College Corridor.
“Obviously there’s a new roadway, but there is a 4-foot bike lane in the roadway as well in addition to a 10-foot sidewalk, multi-use trail on the side of the road as well,” Warbington said. “So, it’s a project that is multi-faceted with different modes of transportation: biking, walking and obviously cars.”
Warbington said the roadway will also be extra beneficial if Gwinnett voters pass a referendum that will appear on ballots in November on expanding transit in the county.
“That connection to the corridor is going to be a major link between the college to the downtown area with additional transit routes so we’re going to be very excited about that if the referendum passes,” Warbington said.
There’s also the question how the new roadway will be developed after it is finished. In other words, what kinds of residential and commercial developments will be located along it.
Warbington said retail on the depot end of the corridor will match the entertainment-oriented development already underway around the depot, including Slow Pour and Ironshield breweries and a planned distillery.
Retail on the state Route 316 end of the corridor will be more traditional shopping center-style retail, Warbington said.
Residential developments are also planned around the retail.
The in-between areas will be less developed, and possibly left for green space, Warbington said.
“It’s going to be a mix of uses,” the city manager said. “The majority of the property, since we did total acquisitions, we basically will own all of the property that tie to the road.
“We are working with our (Downtown Development Authority) to determine what areas we actually want to see development and what areas, we just want it to be green space, landscaped and kind of a linear park. We have just started those processes.”