By Gerhard Schneibel

The planned widening of Abernathy Road and Johnson Ferry Road is one step closer to the point at which dirt will be moved after the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) opened the project to contractor bids Jan. 16.

Sandy Springs Deputy Public Works Director Jon Drysdale said the state agency usually selects a contractor within 30 days.

“They have to have their funds before they can even go through that process,” he said. “So funds have been set aside for the project.”

While Drysdale couldn’t say exactly what the bids were, some were “very good, competitive bids,” and he said all were below the Transportation Department’s estimate.

The estimate for the entire project is more than $30 million with contingency contracts.

Still, it could take as long as two years for construction to begin, and the project itself is expected to take three years. That timeline is mainly because “they’ve got to add two lanes to the (Johnson Ferry Road) bridge over the Chattahoochee,” Drysdale said.

Once construction begins, there will be only “limited detours” when an intersection is being worked on. Otherwise, the Transportation Department is supposed to keep the road opening and operating at capacity.

“GDOT is supposed to maintain traffic. It’ll be part of their plan,” Drysdale said.

GDOT has demolished all but one of the 40 houses purchased to make way for the road widening and the planned Abernathy Road Linear Park, which will run parallel to the road. Demolition of some houses was delayed because asbestos had to be removed from them.

One house is in the final stages of an eminent domain dispute. A court order for the homeowner to vacate within 60 days is expected soon, and then GDOT will have the house demolished within 30 days.