Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood announced the project alongside State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) and Cobb Transportation Director Faye DiMassimo at the end of his State of the City address Thursday.
More than 200 county residents and members of the Acworth Business Association, who sponsored the event, gathered at NorthStar Baptist Church in Acworth to hear Allegood’s address.
“Oh my gosh!” gasped Nicolle Williams, a resident of Acworth, when she heard Allegood’s description of the new road widening project.
“It’s incredible. That’s the way my husband gets to work every day, it takes him 25 minutes to go like three miles. It’s going to be a huge improvement,” Williams said.
Residents were relieved to hear a solution to the often-thick traffic along that portion of the Highway 92 corridor would be alleviated in the coming years.
The next two years will be spent acquiring rights of way from private landowners along the roughly 3-mile strip of road. Construction should begin in 2018, and be completed by 2020, said Acworth’s City Manager Brian Bulthuis. City workers have been planning the project for at least 10 years.
The strip of road is now only two lanes, one lane going in each direction. 2020, Acworth residents will be driving on a road four lanes wide, crossing over a new bridge that will divide Lake Allatoona and Lake Acworth, Allegood said.
Georgia Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Russell McMurry has already done all the land surveying, Allegood said. The only thing to worry about now is the money.
“I’m really excited to see this happen,” said Setzler.
He promised the road project was a priority for him at the state House, and he would fight to make it a reality.
The project is expected to cost $32 million, all coming from state and federal funds, Allegood said. Details of how the funding will flow from Washington, D.C. or Atlanta’s state House have yet to be worked out, Bulthuis said.
City officials said they were hoping none of the project would be paid for with city tax dollars.
“We will solve the most significant traffic problem in Cobb,” Allegood beamed, as the room broke into applause.
Retired Acworth Municipal Court Judge Jim Payne said he was relieved a solution to the traffic woes was on its way.
“As a judge, I had to see and deal with a lot of the problems, collisions and traffic incidents,” from the road, Payne said.
He and his wife recently moved to Marietta, but Payne is thrilled for Acworth residents.
“It’s going to be a great solution to a massive problem,” he said.
Two new retirement communities will open in Acworth in the coming year, Allegood said, in order to accommodate the area’s rapidly aging population.
By 2020, one in every five Acworth residents will be 65 or older, Allegood predicted, holding a crystal ball.
The mayor named more than five religious communities, a dozen or so local businesses and at least four schools in Acworth who have partnered with each other and the city to put on a number of philanthropic events.
In the last decade, more than 1.5 million people have visited Acworth for annual events held by the city and the Acworth Business Association, Allegood said.
Construction will begin on a number of SPLOST projects throughout the city, including adding 12 acres of walking trails
and an amphitheater to Logan Farm Park and quieting the railroad cars as they blow through town. The city’s police force will be using a new police station, Allegood added, and the Georgia Symphony is scheduled to perform at the Acworth Cultural Arts Center.
The first children’s health care-only center will open in Acworth this August, Allegood said, a project that involved Acworth Elementary School, Barber Middle School, the United Way, WellStar, Cobb Schools Foundation and Northside Psychiatric Services.
“If it were not for our many partnerships, our community would be missing resources,” Allegood said.
Coming in 2014, national food chains, including Huey Luey’s, a Mexican food restaurant, and Jimmy John’s, a sandwich company, are both expected to open this year, Allegood said.
One hundred new businesses opened in 2013, and more are slotted to open in 2014, including national outdoor retail chain Cabela’s, which will bring at least 300 jobs and 1,000 daily visitors to the city, Allegood said.
The city is still growing, Allegood said, and moving into 2014 still has 91 commercial sites available for outside companies to buy.
In attendance were Cobb Commissioners Helen Goreham and JoAnn Birrell, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews and Kennesaw council members Debra Williams, Jim Sebastian and Tim Killingsworth. Cobb school board Vice Chair Randy Scamihorn, Cobb Schools’ Chief of Staff Angela Huff and Deputy Superintendent Cheryl Hungerford were also at the lunch.