NORTH FORSYTH -- Locals had a chance this week to voice concerns and look at plans for the widening of a north Forsyth road and the addition of a new exit on Ga. 400.
On Tuesday, residents attended an open house at Coal Mountain Elementary School for the widening of Browns Bridge Road (Hwy. 369) from two to four lanes from just west of the intersection with Dahlonega Highway (Hwy. 9) to just east of Hammond’s Crossing – the intersection with Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306).
Included in the project is a new “partial cloverleaf” interchange with Ga. 400, which will become Exit 18, and a bridge over the road.
Officials with Forsyth County and the Georgia Department of Transportation were on hand to answer questions and to take comments for those who came out.
County Engineering Director John Cunard said the project is ultimately in the hands of GDOT, but the county will help facilitate discussion.
“The comments will be accumulated from our consultant and provided to us and we will sit down, take a look at each comment and see what we can do to address those comments and make certain accommodations if GDOT will allow us,” he said.
Three large maps of the area were used to show where the road will be widened and the location of new traffic signals.
“This visual is extremely helpful and we have had a tremendous turnout. I was happy to see how many people came,” District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said.
The widening project will take place over approximately two miles and will include a 10-foot multi-use trail to the south side and a 5-foot sidewalk on the north. New signals will go in at both Ga. 400 ramps and at the entrance of the future Walmart on the road.
Construction is slated to begin in 2018 and will take about 36 months. The estimated cost of the project for construction, acquiring right of way and utilities is about $47 million. Forsyth County is putting forth $33 million for the project.
Mills said the project would not have been possible without the $200 million transportation bond approved by voters in 2014.
“It would not be happening if it hadn’t have been for the voters,” she said. “We wouldn’t be getting an interchange at 369 and 400. I’ve been told that there have been nine deaths there, so how do you put a value on something that so many people have lost their lives?”
She also said the new road may mean a boost for the area’s economy, particularly in industrial.
Tracie Priego said she lives near the school and generally likes the plan, but felt there should be a traffic signal at a nearby neighborhood.
“I travel this road daily, multiple times. The improvements are needed, desperately needed, and they look good so far,” she said. “The one concern that I have is the stoplight is needed at the Bridgetown housing development. It is already difficult to make a left hand turn … now a person turning left has to cross over two lanes and then wait; it’s just an accident waiting to happen.”