Speakers during the ribbon-cutting ceremony praised many for what they said was a very collaborative event to build Northside-Cherokee Boulevard in just over a year and connect the two heavily traveled highways.
Construction on the mile-long road began in August 2012 and had a final cost of $8.1 million paid by Cherokee County, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Northside Hospital-Cherokee, which is building a new 84-bed hospital along the road.
While speaking to attendees Monday, state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who formerly served on the GDOT’s State Transportation Board, said the project couldn’t have been done without the hard work of many.
Beach praised the cooperation of the different entities.
“It was great to see how economic development and transportation come together to build something that’s going to be here for a long time and create jobs,” Beach said. “It wasn’t hard for me to champion this, to be honest.”
Considering how many hands were involved in the project, Cherokee County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said in his comments to the crowd gathered that it was remarkable the road was built in just a little over a year.
“This really got done fast when you think about who was involved,” Ahrens said.
Ahrens said many of the players in the process sat down with GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden on his first day in office to pitch the idea for Northside-Cherokee Boulevard.
“We had no lawyers and we worked out pretty much the entire financing and timing, essentially in a meeting,” the chairman said. “This is really all about team work, prioritization and execution.”
Billy Hayes, CEO of Northside Hospital-Cherokee, agreed.
“A lot of people have spent a lot of time to get us to where we’re at today,” Hayes said during the ceremony. “To build a road in 16 months from the time we started this process, it just couldn’t have gone any better.”
Hayes said all those in attendance Wednesday were standing on “the road to our future.”
That future, Hayes said, will be seen in Northside Hospital-Cherokee’s new location, which is costing somewhere around $250 million in total and is hoped to be open in mid-to-late 2016 after construction starts in summer 2014.
Once the hospital is open, Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood said the city and the region will benefit.
“Every community must have a hospital, but a building is just a building. It’s what’s inside that matters,” Hobgood told those in attendance Wednesday. “We are fortunate here to have a hospital coming to this location, along this parkway here, that makes quality care its highest priority. This roadway will bring people to this city who will provide that quality care.”