Motorists will have to wait an extra year and a half for the completion of roadwork on Johnson Ferry Road.
Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman Mark McKinnon said, the earlier June 2011 deadline was misleading and did not take into account the 12-16 months needed to relocate utilities.
“People don’t realize what a really big deal it is,” he said.
Upgrading the road involves more than widening the road and installing bike lanes, sidewalks, a raised median and emergency lanes.
Before work could begin, utilities such as telephone polls had to be relocated. That means that all the carriers using the polls, such as cable TV providers, also had to relocate their wires.
After 18 months of grading and construction – some of it around the clock – the job is 31 percent complete, the DOT says.
Construction crews have worked nights and weekends, and closed lanes to create safety zones while trying to remain on schedule.
Delays ensued as workers hauled dirt from the north to south side of Abernathy Road.
The relocation of utilities and underground drainage pipes added more than a year to the timeline, McKinnon said.
The $23.4 million project involves improving:
- Abernathy Road from Johnson Ferry Road to Roswell Road, 0.93 miles;
- Johnson Ferry Road from Columns Drive to Abernathy Road, 1.24 miles.
When complete, the roadway will have:
- Four lanes;
- Four-foot bike lanes on each side;
- 16-foot shoulders;
- 10-foot sidewalks on each side;
- A raised median ranging in width from 16 feet to 32 feet.
The construction corridor has been a nightmare for drivers since work began in June 2009. But it has not greatly impacted the Abernathy Arts Center, said program director Lauren Bernazza. The newly constructed road and the completed Abernathy Greenway will make the Arts Center a Sandy Springs destination, she said.
The planned park is envisioned as a tree-lined greenway on both sides of Abernathy Road. It would begin at Johnson Ferry Road and extend almost all the way to Roswell Road.
“We will actually gain more parking and we will have a park right outside our door,” Bernazza said.
Right now the intersection is not much worse than normal, she added. “It’s a terrible intersection. We are looking forward to the re-design of it. It will [be] a much more efficient intersection.”
The project has been on the drawing boards since long before the incorporation of Sandy Springs.
The road-widening project is proceeding only because the state took over the corridor in 1996.
Before then, Fulton and Cobb counties feuded over plans, first unveiled in 1987, that would eliminate traffic jams on the major corridor linking East Cobb with Sandy Springs.
Abernathy Road had been part of Fulton County’s system, and Johnson Ferry Road was in Cobb’s road system.
Fulton had refused since 1987 to provide right-of-way for construction.
In 1996, former state Transportation Commissioner Wayne Shackelford took the entire corridor into the state system and design work started on the project now under way.