Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting any time from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cherokee Conference Center at the Bluffs to hear about the proposed plans, which are designed to improve conditions on the road from Interstate 575 to Scott Road, said Mohamed Arafa, GDOT spokesman.
Arafa said early estimates put the potential cost of the construction for the project at about $6 million, although it hasn’t gone out for contracts.
Another $7.5 million is expected to buy the right of way needed for the construction, GDOT officials said.
Within the plans so far, Arafa said the traffic-plagued 1.1-mile stretch of road on the eastern edge of Canton will have truck passing lanes added along with intersection upgrades from Northside Parkway to Scott Road and a median down the center of the road.
The construction from Northside Parkway to Scott Road will in effect make the road four lanes, Arafa said.
Cynthia Burney, the manager of the project, said GDOT realized the need for widening the road in 2008 when preliminary work was underway for another a truck passing lane project, which was recently completed on Highway 20 from Union Hill Road to Greenwood Court.
Originally, the stretch of Highway 20 was part of the now-complete project, but it became evident the problems from I-575 to Scott Road were more severe, she said.
“They saw the need for the widening in this area, so they created a separate project,” Burney said.
This portion of Highway 20 has become increasingly frustrating for drivers in the last few years due to the construction and continual expansion of Canton Marketplace. Conditions are particularly difficult during peak traffic hours when the terms “bottleneck” or “stop-and-go” tend to come to mind.
Arafa said GDOT has also taken note of the uptick in traffic and hopes this project will make things a bit better.
“It is very much needed to ease congestion and enhance safety in light of the fast pace of development taking place in central Cherokee County,” he said.
Although, GDOT is in the early stages of a larger project to improve Highway 20 from I-575 in Canton all the way to Cumming, Arafa said this project is needed either way.
DeWayne Comer, district engineer at the GDOT office in Cartersville, said in a recent news release from the department that the public’s opinion on this 1.1-mile project is important.
“(GDOT) strongly believes that since this project is intended to serve the people of Cherokee County, the ideas and preferences of these people are important,” Comer said. “This meeting (Tuesday) will provide the public with an opportunity to review the proposed project, ask questions and express their preferences as well as their concerns.”
As with other undertakings, GDOT has had to perform environmental studies for the project, and Arafa said that process is almost complete.
“We expect the environmental work to be completed and approved by the spring,” he said.
Then, the right of way acquisition process is hoped to be started in fall 2014 and could take about two years.
“Once right of way is acquired and certified,” Arafa said, “the project will be let to contract.”
The project manager said construction would likely take about two years and be completed around 2018.
Other work finishing up
On top of GDOT’s plans to help ease traffic conditions on Highway 20 near Canton Marketplace, another project connecting Highway 20 near Canton Marketplace to Highway 140 is near completion.
The roads are being connected by the brand new Northside Cherokee Boulevard, which is planned to open officially after a ribbon cutting ceremony next Wednesday morning at 10, said Cherokee County Engineer Geoff Morton.
Morton said Wednesday that only a few minor tasks remain before the road was complete.
“I’ve driven on it many times myself,” he said.
Morton said the new road, which construction started on in August 2012, would give drivers another option to access Canton Marketplace from the Highway 140 side.
“I think it’s a win-win for traffic congestion,” he said.
The final cost for the new .9-mile long road came in around $8.1 million, including bridge construction, Morton said.
Of that money, GDOT paid $4.3 million, Cherokee County paid $1.4 million, and Northside Hospital-Cherokee chipped in about $2.3 million, Morton said.