Senator Renee Unterman, Gwinnett Chairman Charlotte Nash, and former Gwinnett Commissioner Maron Buice met with journalists August 19 at the Buford Community Center to talk about former Commissioner Buice’s service and the Maron Sidney Buice Bridge dedication ceremony to be held August 31 in Sugar Hill.
Buice served four consecutive terms as a Gwinnett County Commissioner from 1969 to 1984. His platform to run for commissioner was based on improving roads and placing signals on railroad crossings.
In just his second year serving the county, five Forsyth County High School students were tragically killed at the railroad crossing previously known as “Mangum’s Crossing” along SR-20 in Sugar Hill.
Buice had been pushing for improving the safety of the crossing since it was the most dangerous crossing in Gwinnett at that time, but had received opposition because of the high cost the project would have. This tragic event gave Buice the support he needed to move forward with the project. Five years later, the bridge across the crossing was finished.
The bridge, which has been in use for almost 45 years now, will be named in honor of Mr. Buice and his dedication to pushing for safer infrastructure in the county.
There have been talks of honoring Buice with the bridge dedication before, but Senator Unterman is the one who is finally making it happen.
“They had talked about [dedicating the bridge] years before. And I told them I didn’t want to do it then because I was in office and I thought it’d be too political, so let’s wait a while. But I didn’t think about them waiting this long,” Buice said with a smile. “I told them, if you’re going to do anything, do it! I’ve seen too many roads and bridges named as a memorial. I said, ‘I don’t want to be a memorial, guys.’ I want to be here where I can enjoy [it].”
Gwinnett has changed since Buice’s 16 years of service. The county was just starting to grow during his first decade as commissioner. In 1970, the county’s population was around 80,000. Ten years later, the number had nearly doubled with a population of 159,000. With a budget of just a few million dollars – compared to the current budget of 1.8 billion dollars – Buice had the tough task of stretching the budget to help build infrastructure, including roads and water systems.
Current Commission Chairman Nash stated she couldn’t imagine what SR-20 and the rest of Gwinnett would look like now without Buice’s sight for what the future of Gwinnett could be.
“It represents a community…recognizing that there are needs in the community, that the community is changing, that what’s been the approach in the past is not always going to be sufficient,” Nash explained. “I think its symbolism is important also, to look in terms of people who recognized a need. Leaders like Commissioner Buice, who were willing to keep pushing on the folks that could help the county with dollars and the approvals that had to be given to make the bridge a reality. All of that is just a great illustration of how good things can be in Gwinnett County.”
Senator Unterman wanted to honor Buice with the bridge dedication and sent a bill through the state’s Department of Transportation to make it happen. The bill passed smoothly and Senator Unterman is excited to finally honor former Commissioner Buice.
“I think it’s going to be very significant. I think his family, the heritage of Gwinnett County, and showing where we’ve been, I think are very important to show where you’ve come from to know where you’re going. And when you look at the North Gwinnett area, it’s just phenomenal,” Senator Unterman said.
The Maron Sidney Buice Bridge dedication ceremony will be held on August 31 at 1 p.m. in Sugar Hill’s E Center, located at 5019 W Broad Street NE, Sugar Hill, GA 30518.