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Gwinnett: The auto capital of Georgia

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Dubious distinction at best: The auto capital of Georgia


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 02/22/04

Yes, Gwinnett has a new bus system. But don't be fooled.

The car is still king around here.

In fact, the county surged past Fulton County last year to become Georgia's automobile capital.

Roughly 561,500 cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses are registered in Gwinnett, surpassing the more populous Fulton (546,605 vehicles) and DeKalb (450,363 vehicles) counties.

Drivers stuck in traffic on Jimmy Carter Boulevard or Ga. 20 probably won't be beating their chests over that top ranking, however. Beating on their horns is more like it.

Congestion is a nagging problem as officials struggle to keep up with growth. Crews are widening a bottleneck on Ga. 124. New ramps are opening at Old Peachtree Road and I-85. And an extension of McGinnis Ferry Road across I-85 is on the way.

But perhaps the most anticipated road project is the widening of the Grayson and Chattahoochee River bottlenecks on Ga. 20, ranked last year as the most congested nonfreeway in metro Atlanta. Work could begin as early as 2006.

County Commission Chairman Wayne Hill doesn't think that will be enough if the county's population rockets to near 1 million by 2020 as projected. He's pushing for a 19-mile strip of asphalt that would run from Ga. 20 near Lawrenceville to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard at Sugar Hill. The road, which faces various political and monetary hurdles, would tie into Sugarloaf Parkway, creating a four-lane loop in Gwinnett.

For those banking on mass transit to break the gridlock, good luck. A proposed rail line linking Athens and Atlanta would have four stops in Gwinnett. But the idea lacks political support and funding.

Then there's that bus system. Launched in November 2001, the commuter routes couldn't be any more popular. The county has had to add buses to lessen the number of people who have to stand during the trip between Park & Ride lots in Gwinnett and MARTA stations in downtown Atlanta.

Even so, the more than 1,300 daily passengers are a drop in the bucket compared with the traffic blitz on I-85.

Local bus routes connecting spots within Gwinnett have been slow to catch on. But Gwinnett Transit officials are urging patience.

As the routes become better known

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Yet another city suffers from growing pains. My city is going through very much the same thing, only we have no mass transportation (not even buses), and we're much smaller....only about 50,000 people (although that number will jump to 90,000 by 2017.

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