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Gwinnett County seeks ARC funds to improve walkability east of I-85

I-85 in Gwinnett County. (Photo by David Pendered.)

By David Pendered

Gwinnett County is considering building a path through a densely developed area east of I-85 to provide an alternative to traveling by vehicle.

A feasibility study of the potential path would be funded by a grant the county has requested from the Atlanta Regional Commission. Construction funds have not been publicly identified.

The county’s idea is to improve multi-modal connectivity in an area a short distance north of the landmark intersection of I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard. The effort is the latest example of Gwinnett’s attempts to address existing and growing, traffic congestion in the I-85 corridor north of the road’s intersection with I-285.

If ARC approves funding, planners are to evaluate potential trail routes in the area on the Lilburn side of I-85. The study area stretches north from Beaver Ruin Road toward Gwinnett Place. The path is to be open to pedestrians and cyclists.

This area is crowded with developments that range from heavy industry to residential.

Vulcan Materials Co. has a quarry across Beaver Ruin Road from the area that could be near the southern terminus of the potential multi-modal trail. The quarry predates Gwinnett’s population surge, which began in the 1980s. Vulcan’s efforts to support the community have included opening the quarry for a fun run to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. The route went through the deepest quarry in the company’s pre-Covid Vulcan Materials Co. Quarry Crusher Run Series.

Across Beaver Ruin Road from the quarry, a series of light industrial and office developments stretch north toward the mall.

The eastern boundary between commercial and residential uses is Steve Reynolds Boulevard. Commercial uses are on the west side of Steve Reynolds Boulevard and residential developments are to the east. Steve Reynolds Boulevard runs from the southern border of Gwinnett Place, on the west side of I-85, south and east across I-85 to the quarry. It turns south toward Beaver Ruin Road and extends to its terminus at Indian Trail Road, where the road changes names to Singleton Road.

Gwinnett County’s Board of Commissioners voted on Feb. 15 to authorize an application for an ARC grant in an amount estimated at $100,000 to $130,000.

The county’s 20 percent match would provide an amount up to $30,000. Gwinnett’s portion would be derived from up to $15,000 in county funds and up to $15,000 from the Gateway85 Community Improvement District, according to the legislation approved by commissioners.

Gwinnett is seeking funding in the upcoming round of the ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative. The LCI program was started in 2000 as the ARC’s signature effort to help communities devise new plans for downtowns and transit nodes. The goal is to support the establishment of walkable places that have increased mobility options. ARC has provided grants to 127 communities, according to a report from ARC.

ARC’s schedule for this year’s LCI program set an application deadline of Feb. 28. ARC planners are to conduct an internal review of applications in March. Grants are to be announced in April. The plans are to be complete by November 2023.

 

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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