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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Johnson Ferry fix gets go-ahead | ajc.com

Johnson Ferry fix gets go-ahead | ajc.comJohnson Ferry fix gets go-ahead

> By RICHARD WHITT
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
> Published on: 07/16/05

One of metro Atlanta's most notorious traffic bottlenecks is on track for long-sought improvements.

The Johnson Ferry Road-Abernathy Road improvement project in Cobb and Fulton counties cleared its final hurdle with the announcement Friday that the Federal Highway Administration has signed off on the $31 million project.

The state will begin buying land for the project in August and construction will begin late in 2006, according to Georgia Department of Transportation officials. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2009, officials said.

Johnson Ferry Road is being improved to include a median-divided, four-lane road entering Fulton County at the Chattahoochee River. The intersection of Johnson Ferry and Abernathy roads will be realigned to allow northbound and southbound traffic to move unrestricted on Johnson Ferry from Sandy Springs to the Cobb County line.

Drivers leaving east Cobb on Johnson Ferry have long complained about tie-ups at the Chattahoochee River border with Fulton. Concerns about the impact on nearby neighborhoods, lack of money and political squabbling between Cobb and Fulton counties kept the project waiting.

Many in Fulton resented seeing their neighborhoods turned into a commuting route. It was once alleged that Fulton officials tampered with the timing traffic signal at Johnson Ferry Road and Riverside Drive to back up traffic.

In 2001, the project cleared its first huge hurdle when a federal Department of Transportation appropriations bill provided the money out of federal gas taxes returned to the state. Politicians at all levels hailed the FHA's decision to move forward with the project by approving the final environmental assessment.

"This is great news for Cobb County," U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said Friday. "The federal government realizes the importance of this project and the need for an improved intersection."

Cobb Commission Chairman Sam Olens called it "an excellent example of regional partnerships benefiting the residents and businesses in both counties."

"This approval sets the stage for the project to move forward in a big way," said Olens.

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