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C.W. Matthews Takes Aim at Improving Deadly Ga. Road

Fri June 10, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

As temperatures continue to climb, crews in Cherokee County, Ga., are tackling a 4.3-mi. (6.9-km) project involving construction of truck passing lanes on SR 20, beginning west of Union Hill Road and extending to east of Greenwood Court in Cherokee County. Work on this project just recently began and is scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2013, at a construction cost of $7.6 million, according to officials with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

Jay Mayo, vice president of roadway division for general contractor C.W. Matthews Construction Company of Marietta, Ga., said the work is desperately needed.

“This is probably one of the deadliest roads in the state as far as accidents. It’s very dangerous, and this will be a huge improvement,” Mayo said.

According to GDOT statistics, the accident, injury and fatality rates along portions of SR20 have exceeded the statewide average in recent years. It’s expected improvements in Cherokee County and other sections of the route will reduce future wrecks.

“We’re basically widening the road to create passing lanes,” Mayo explained. “It’s a heavily traveled route with very few places for people to pass. In most places we’re adding a lane on one side of the road or the other to allow traffic to go around. Luckily, there are no real issues to address so far. Right now we’re getting some utilities relocated. Georgia Power, AT & T, Cherokee County water and gas lines, etc. We’ve got a six-man crew out there at this time. Working alongside live traffic is one of our biggest concerns, as is dealing with traffic control matters and keeping utilities out of the way.

“We thrive in the peak of summer heat,” Mayo added. “It’s during these months we can do our most productive work when it’s dry and we can get our longest hours in. We are hoping for pretty good weather after having to put up with lots of rain the last couple of years.

“It’s probably just putting a bandaid on things, but this will help for now. So many trucks and other vehicles drive this route each day. The volume of traffic is quite heavy.”

SR 20 serves as a primary east-west roadway for the northern Atlanta region and North Georgia connecting Floyd, Bartow, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Walton, Rockdale, Newton and Henry counties. The SR 20 corridor in the outer counties has seen high residential and commercial growth for the metro Atlanta region that is expected to continue. The route, extending from the Alabama State Line, connects with Rome, Canton, Cumming, Sugar Hill, Buford, Lawrenceville, Loganville, Conyers, McDonough and Hampton. SR 20 extends from west of I-75 eastward through I-575, SR 400, I-985, I-85, SR316, US 78, I-20 and US 41.

“Erosion control also is crucial, because as a regulatory issue we have to ensure we don’t have any problems with regard to environmental issues. It’s pretty significant in terms of time and money,” Mayo said.

Matt Soignet, C.W. Matthews division vice-president of asphalt construction, said that much of the work on this particular project will be done without relying on outside companies.

“It’s easy to do most of our work in-house, as opposed to using other contractors, because we understand what to expect from each division and we can be more productive. In our work we will use a Roadtec 2500 material transfer device, a Roadtec RP-190 asphalt spreader, a Caterpillar 634 steel drum roller, a Caterpillar 534 steel drum roller, Caterpillar pneumatic roller, Roadtec power broom, Etnyre tack truck and a Roadtec RX 900 milling machine.”

The quantities of materials involved will vary from 500 to 2,000 tons (453.5 to 1,814 t) depending on what stage of the work crews are doing at the time.

“As for now, we are clearing, cutting subgrade and dumping GAB. In about four to six weeks, we hope to be ready for the first stages of asphalt paving. The paving will involve leveling, bringing the existing roadway up to its new typical section and getting traffic into its final alignment,” Mayo explained.

Soignet added, “The leveling will vary in depth a great deal in which it will make us have to put the asphalt down in multiple lifts, creating possible smoothness issues for the traveling public. Much of our work will be done using a pilot vehicle and flagmen leading traffic thru in a single lane.”

There are, still, a number of subcontractors connected to the SR20 project. They include BC Landscaping, Celebrity Fence, F.L. Haynie Construction, Kelly Construction, Martin Robbins, Mother Trucker, North Cherokee Electric, North Georgia Concrete, Peek Pavement Marking and D&G Boring.

The GDOT stated that the need for improvements to SR 20 are because the capacity and level of service will be at an unacceptable level by 2032. The purpose is to improve capacity and reduce the high accident, injury and fatality rates that exceed the statewide averages. The proposed construction would also improve access and safety along this facility. The widening and median improvements also would ease congestion, by upgrading a primary east-west facility which accesses SR 400, a major north-south route connecting Atlanta to North Georgia.

State Route 20 has been described as an abnormally-oriented route that is a rotated “J”-shape. Its counterclockwise terminus is at the Alabama state line in Floyd County, with its clockwise terminus occurring in the middle of an overpass over U.S. 19/U.S. 41 and S.R. 3 in Hampton in Henry County at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Here it is known as Bruton Smith Parkway.

“It’s definitely a high-profile area,” Mayo explained. “We just want to make things a lot safer for the traveling public.” CEG

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