Motorists began using the new Seven Hills Connector Nov. 21 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The road includes two lanes divided by a grass median and runs two miles from the intersection of Cedarcrest Road and Seven Hills Boulevard, to the intersection of Dallas-Acworth Highway and Old Stilesboro Road near Allatoona High School, said Jacob Hughes, assistant director of the Paulding Department of Transportation.
The road is designed for additional lanes on both sides. However, transportation officials are waiting to see how much traffic fills the road before determining when the new lanes are warranted, he said.
“At this point, we don’t know when the widening will be needed,” Hughes said.
He said he believes at least 5,000 vehicles per day will use the road initially, though that number could be higher after northeast Paulding residents learn it is opened.
Studies show vehicle backups begin to occur on a two-lane road when a volume reaches about 12,000 vehicles daily, Hughes said.
The new road also will cut the commute to North Paulding High School for residents of Pickett’s Mill community by about two miles, he said.
The road has been in the works for about a decade, after former county commissioner Wayne Kirby proposed its construction amidst the Seven Hills area’s rapid residential growth in the early years of the last decade.
“Bentwater [community] is a huge traffic generator,” Hughes said.
Transportation officials anticipated the new road’s opening in 2012 when they installed a traffic light at Old Stilesboro Road and Dallas-Acworth Highway – about ¼-mile south of the Cobb County line, he said. Dallas-Acworth Highway connects to Cobb Parkway, which is a major commuter route to Marietta and Atlanta.
The $9.5 million road was funded with special purpose local option sales tax proceeds.
About 75 percent of the road runs through undeveloped land, and developers donated some land – both of which combined to help reduce the cost of purchasing right of way, Hughes said.
However, the road’s construction had “different hurdles,” including designing it to avoid a variety of wetlands along the route, he said. However, some environmentally sensitive areas could not be avoided, and the county was forced to install retaining walls in some areas and receive permits to allow the road to run through wetlands areas, Hughes said.
C.W. Matthews Construction Co. of Marietta was the general contractor.