FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The McGinnis Ferry Road widening project has yet to break ground, but a settlement from Forsyth County has brought the traffic upgrades a bit closer to reality.
The Board of Commissioners approved a settlement Dec. 22 with the Plantation and Preserve at Brookwood Homeowner’s Association for right-of-way, easements and landscape improvements to advance the widening project.
The settlement, for $521,765, is the latest in a string of right-of-way acquisitions the county has made recently in advance of construction. The project is a partnership between the county and the cities of Johns Creek and Alpharetta, which border the major east-west corridor.
The plan calls for adding a lane in each direction of the road for 4.7 miles from Sargent Road in Johns Creek to Union Hill Road in Alpharetta. The roadway acts as a border between Forsyth and the municipalities. Each city shares about 2.3 miles of the stretch with Forsyth.
Funding the project has been a major roadblock.
Originally estimated at $35 million when first proposed in 2015, the price tag has since ballooned to around $60 million, requiring Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Forsyth and the state to kick in more dollars.
In 2016, Alpharetta and Johns Creek each committed $4.9 million to fund the work with Forsyth on the hook for $18 million. Since then, each city has agreed to add $4 million to its shares while Forsyth’s investment has risen to $23 million.
State dollars are also in play. GDOT has doubled its original commitment and will now contribute $20 million.
The project is of major significance to GDOT, because it is already underway with projects to add McGinnis Ferry exits off I-85 in Gwinnett County and farther west on Ga. 400 that will make the corridor even more inviting for commuters.
The increased funding doesn’t come easy for Forsyth, which is facing a potential shortfall in its traffic improvement chest. Other road improvement projects in the county, including the Ronald Reagan Boulevard extension and Ga. 369/Ga. 400 interchange, have come in over budget.
Forsyth County Chief Financial Officer David Gruen told commissioners in September the increase in costs for SPLOST 7 projects could likely require the county to dip into SPLOST 8 revenues, which are almost completely earmarked for other projects. Without any significant cost changes, the county would have around $6.2 million remaining from SPLOST 8 anticipated revenues, but those funds could be wiped out by the increasing cost for the McGinnis Ferry project.
Alpharetta and Johns Creek have continued their right-of-way acquisitions.
Forsyth County had originally proposed an agreement in which it would take over the acquisition process within the two cities with a contribution of $9 million from each municipality, but that proposal never gained traction.