Despite the lack of updates this busy summer season, we are still working behind the scenes to fight the 6-lane proposal for Hwy 20. The further we get into this, though, the more apparent it is that this fight is a marathon, not a sprint. Slowly but surely we’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go!
As it stands, GDOT intends to move forward with the 6-lane proposal between Canton and Cumming, with a few very minor adjustments. GDOT is currently reevaluating traffic patterns at some intersections along the corridor, including at the entrance of the newly opened Cherokee Veterans Park, to determine if traffic signals or turn lanes would improve safety. They have made right-of-way acquisition offers for some properties, including the more “sensitive” properties with cultural, historic, or religious significance, but the majority of homeowners have not yet received their offers. GDOT also has not yet conducted the environmental studies they are required to do prior to finalizing the design of the highway, and have not received permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Steve West, District 1 Commissioner for Cherokee County, has been meeting with other local elected officials, including Cumming Mayor Ford Gravitt and Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle, to garner support for scaling back or rerouting the project to divert truck traffic off of Hwy 20 in favor of a more direct route between 400 and I-75. Given the logistical challenge of widening Hwy 20 through already congested downtown Cumming, Mayor Gravitt has taken a hard stance against widening the highway to 6 lanes since such a plan would actually increase traffic congestion by creating a bottleneck on the outskirts of the city. State Senator Brandon Beach, our local representative in Cherokee County and the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, is working with GDOT officials to find a solution that represents a suitable compromise for all parties.
We have heard rumors of more satisfying things coming down the pipeline and hope to have a more exciting update soon, but we will hold off on publishing rumors until GDOT releases an official statement. We are also eagerly (but perhaps not patiently) awaiting GDOT’s response to the comments and questions posed by concerned citizens at the Public Information Open Houses in May.