by: Richard Elliot Updated:
A new Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) online survey seems to show support for a northern route through Cherokee and Forsyth Counties connecting I-575 with Georgia 400, but opponents said the poll shows a decided lack of support for the overall project.
GDOT wants to build the new highway because it believes the current Highway 20 is too small to handle even the current traffic capacity, much less traffic in 2040.
"We're already beyond capacity in that area," said GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale. "As that area begins to grow, more neighborhoods, more businesses, more jobs in that area, we're going to be well beyond that capacity in 2040."
GDOT broke down the online survey choices to three possibilities: Alternate A, a route north of Highway 20; Alternate B, which runs closely along the route of the current Highway 20; and Alternate C, a route south of Highway 20. The survey asked respondents to pick a route and rate it from strongly dislike to strongly like.
According to GDOT, 60 percent of those who chose Alternate A liked it, while 36 percent disliked it. Alternate C was the least popular with 71 percent disliking it and 28 percent liking it.
Dale said this input is only a small part of the overall study for the project to qualify for federal funds. Cost, environmental impact and ease of construction are also factors.
Robert Chambers heads an opposition group called the Highway 20 Coalition. His house sits right on the route of Alternate C. When he reads the GDOT results, he believes it shows overall that Alternate A has 20.5 percent of the likes, while Alternate C has only 9.4 percent of the likes. He believes that shows a lack of support for the overall project. His group wants GDOT to scrap all the plans for a new road. They want to see the state simply overhaul and improve the existing Highway 20.
"It would take almost no eminent domain," said Chambers. "It would have the least cost, and it would meet the needs of the citizens of Cherokee County."
GDOT doesn't anticipate breaking ground on the project until 2020.