CANTON — State Sen. Brandon Beach visited the Canton Rotary Club Tuesday to discuss local and state projects, including providing updates on road and intersection improvements to Highway 20 and 140 in Cherokee County.
Beach, R-Alpharetta, who represents parts of Cherokee and Fulton counties in the Georgia Senate, provided updates to several road and intersection projects that are either in the construction phase or pre-construction phase.
The first of these is the Highway 20 widening project from Interstate 575 to Scott Road. This will widen Highway 20 to six lanes, three lanes in each direction, with a 20-foot concrete raised median including curb and gutter, and five-foot sidewalks near the interstate.
Beach, who served on the Georgia Department of Transportation board for eight years, said this project is expected to be completed by May. He added that “it’s about 73% complete as of today.”
“There are other segments of SR 20 that are currently under construction as well, including from Scott Road to Union Hill Road, which is about 25% complete and has an expected completion date of November 2024,” Beach said.
This segment will widen the roadway to three lanes of traffic in each direction with a 20-foot raised median and “urban” shoulders. Access to side roads and driveways will be controlled by restricted crossing U-turns in the median.
“State Route 20 from I-75 in Bartow to I-575 in Cherokee is in preliminary design with right-of-way funding in the fiscal year 2024 budget. Construction is in the fiscal year 2028 budget. SR-20 from Union Hill Road to East Cherokee Drive is currently in right-of-way acquisition and final design. Construction funding is $77.7 million — we’ve already appropriated the funding for this project.”
Union Hill Road to East Cherokee Drive will be widened to six lanes with a 20-foot raised median.
Another Highway 20 widening project from East Cherokee Drive to State Route 369 is in final design with $59 million in funding, Beach said. In addition, State Route 369 to Post Road in Forsyth County is in the right-of-way phase with $153.2 million in funding.
“That’s a lot of money we are spending on State Route 20, but we believe east-west connectivity is important and that infrastructure is important,” Beach said. “As for work on (Highway) 140, we don’t have the money to completely widen that right now, so the best we can do is look at intersection improvements such as double left and right turn lanes.”
One of these intersection improvements will be for Highway 140 at Highway 5 in Canton, which is in preliminary design by Canton with construction scheduled for fiscal year 2026. This project has $363 million in funding, Beach said.
An intersection improvement project for Highway 140 at Univeter Road is in preliminary design by Cherokee County with $1.875 million in funding. This includes the construction of additional travel lanes on Highway 140 north and south bound and dual left turn lanes from northbound Highway 140 to westbound Univeter Road, Beach said.
“We are trying to move traffic by having extra left and right turn lanes,” Beach said. “Regarding the Highway 140 at Highway 5 connector, that has $1.84 million in funding and is in the design and concept planning phase. We are also making some road improvements to the airport.”
Beach added that a “passion” of his is to get a bypass built in Ball Ground for trucks to travel around the city’s downtown, rather than through it.
“Those merchants in downtown Ball Ground are tired of those feathers and chicken trucks coming through — I have told the mayor (Rick Roberts) I am committed to that,” Beach said. “We do have the concept and design, we just need the $11 million construction funding. I commit to you that I will continue to fight for this project.”
Beach added that the state has a $6 billion surplus. From the surplus, Beach said $1 billion will be given back to citizens through a tax refund, with an additional one-time $1 billion property tax relief. Regarding the other $4 billion, Beach said state leaders will continue to look at “how we can take that money and look at different opportunities for infrastructure and so on.”
“There is a direct correlation between infrastructure investment and economic development and jobs — Cherokee County is one of the best examples of that,” Beach said. “That bridge between Highway 140 and Highway 20 — I would put that investment up to any investment when you look at the jobs Northside Hospital has created, and the investment made there and the great quality healthcare in Cherokee County. That’s an example of that.”
Further discussing statewide issues, Beach talked about his , “Gangs, Guns, Gone.” This bill, which is Senate Bill 7, looks to impose a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who uses a gun while committing or attempting to commit a violent felony, such as armed robbery, murder, rape, carjacking, etc.
“We’ve got to stop this violent crime, and 95% of that crime is with guns — we won’t punish legal gun owners, but we want to let these people know that if you commit that crime, you will get that 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.”
Other issues that Beach said he and other state leaders are looking to address include literacy and ensuring education, technical education and workforce development “continue to be strong” in Georgia.
Beach also touched on the need to address freight logistics, coming up with plans to move freight “more effectively,” he said.
The state senator also discussed the “economic engines” in Georgia such as Hartsfield Jackson Airport, the World Congress Center and Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Beach said that citizens should expect to hear and read about the potential legalization of sports betting, gaming and horse racing, which could help bring more people to stadiums and help the equine industry and create jobs. He said he is for putting the issue to the voters through a referendum.
“Thank you for allowing me to be your state senator for the last 11 years,” Beach said. “It’s not my seat, it’s your seat and it’s an honor to serve.”
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