Several hundred concerned Forsyth and Cherokee County citizens turned out on Monday night to the first of two open houses being hosted by GDOT to reveal proposed changes to the plan for Hwy 20 between Canton and Cumming. After months of hearing concerns from residents, business owners and local elected officials over the completely unnecessary 6-lane proposal, here is GDOT’s response:
That’s it. GDOT heard from residents that a 6-lane highway was not needed or wanted in the community, and their response was to tweak the road’s alignment in a few spots to preserve entrance signs and parking spaces and to add a turn lane for a church. These changes are so insignificant in the bigger picture that they might as well have changed the shade of white they planned to stripe the road with.
A few other changes were visible on the display boards set up around the room, if you knew what you were looking for. The new plans have reduced the previously 12′ lanes to two 11′ lanes and one 12′ lane (for trucks and school buses), which reduces the right-of-way by a total of 2′ but will increase sideswipe accidents by up to 5% according to FHWA data. One additional traffic signal was added at the Canton Exchange, a shopping center featuring a Party City and Hobby Lobby that’s slated to open in fall 2018, and five additional requests for traffic signals were denied. Here’s a full list of “major changes” proposed by GDOT, according to the handout provided at the meeting:
And, with that, GDOT has checked the box next to the requirement for “community input” without actually taking into account the concerns of the community.
GDOT will be hosting the second of the two open houses next Tuesday, May 16, at Calvary Baptist Church in Canton/Ball Ground from 5:00-7:00. Detailed display boards depicting the entire stretch of road will be available for the duration, and several GDOT employees and transportation consultants will be on hand to answer questions and receive feedback from affected residents. Question/Comment sheets, provided by GDOT, can be submitted at the meeting, or comments can be submitted online at GDOT’s SR20 website. (About halfway down the page there’s a gold button that says “Submit Comment.”)
Comments/letters may also be submitted in writing to:
Mr. Eric Duff
Georgia Department of Transportation
State Environmental Administrator
One Georgia Center/16th Floor
600 West Peachtree Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
Comments MUST be received by May 30, 2017, in order to be considered by GDOT.
If you haven’t already, please sign and share our petition and write your local representatives and GDOT to voice your concerns about their plans. You can also sign up to volunteer with the Hwy 20 Community Alliance, or share this information with family and friends.
While we are frustrated by GDOT’s lack of concern for the communities and individuals affected by their proposed plan, we are not discouraged. It simply means that we must be louder and push harder.