FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted to award a $51.4 million contract GP’s Enterprises Jan. 11 for construction on the Old Atlanta Road expansion project.
The contract calls for adding a lane in each direction and a median along a 3.1-mile section of the highway from James Burgess Road to the St. Marlo Country Club.
Assistant County Manager David McKee said the project was designed over a decade ago, though changes in construction guidelines and developments in the area mean it will undergo a redesign. Construction will begin once the design is completed, but McKee said workers will be able to begin clearing ground and working on utilities as the design process continues.
McKee noted the construction will be a “lengthy process,” and estimated it will take 3-5 years for the project to be completed. He expects construction to begin in 6-8 months.
Noting the project’s large price tag, Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills asked if delaying the contract approval until construction prices drop would be viable. McKee said the project would “only get more expensive” if the commission waited to approve.
In other matters at the Jan. 11 work session, the commission approved a public safety infrastructure refresh initiative for up to $1.4 million that provide new digital service systems for the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department and Emergency Management Agency.
Maj. Nick Curry of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said the current public safety system was acquired in 2015 and warranties are running out. He said public safety systems are commonly targeted by ransomware and malware due to its critical nature.
“You can just Google right now and see how many attacks we’ve had on local, state, federal agencies,” Curry said. “Sometimes you get all the data back and sometimes you don’t.”
Curry said the goal of the new system would be to mitigate attacks and allow for more efficient services across the three public safety agencies.
In other business, the commission voted to pursue eminent domain to condemn four properties along McGinnis Ferry Road to continue widening efforts. The widening project, estimated at more than $60 million, is a combined effort with funding from Forsyth County, the cities of Alpharetta and Johns Creek and the Georgia Department of Transportation.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard noted difficulties in negotiating compensation with the property owners. Three of the four property owners hired the same opposing counsel, who Jarrard said would not accept the county’s offers, asking for double or triple the amounts offered.
Commissioners were scheduled to consider a resolution ratifying proposed new board district maps at the meeting, but they opted to postpone the item. The board will now consider the resolution on Jan. 25.
Commissioner Todd Levent asked staff to change the title of the agenda item from ratifying the proposed map to considering alternatives, signaling intent to explore changes.
Late last year, the commission considered action on a resolution that would call for a countywide vote to elect the commission chair position. That measure has not resurfaced.
Right now, each of the five Forsyth County commissioners is elected by voters within the districts they represent. The five nominate and vote on one commissioner to serve as chair each year.