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Eyes on the Road: Public meeting to address long-range plan

POSTED: May 28, 2014 12:49 a.m.

A public meeting has been set for 5:30-7 p.m. June 5 on a long-range transportation plan for the region.

The meeting will take place in the Board of Commissioners meeting room on the second floor of the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

A presentation is set for 6 p.m.

Between 5:30 and 6, residents can talk with officials about the plan update, previous work, key corridors and growth areas, and the plan’s goals and objectives, said Sam I. Baker, the MPO’s senior transportation planner.

After the presentation, attendees will engage in a “tabletop exercise to provide feedback on the most important corridors for various transportation modes,” he said.

Because Hall County is part of an air quality nonattainment area, it must update its long-term plan every four years. The current document, the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, was released in August 2011. The update must be completed by August 2015.

In addition to revenue concerns, officials also have more territory to cover in the plan update. As a result of 2010 census numbers, the MPO’s boundaries have grown to include a part of west Jackson County, particularly the Braselton area, which includes a stretch of Interstate 85.

Also, the MPO will need to consider an updated bicycle and pedestrian plan and a long-term Gainesville transportation plan.

The long-range plan “identifies transportation priorities in our rapidly growing community,” Baker said.

Officials said they are hoping for feedback on new roadway projects, setting priorities on existing roadway projects, current and future travel patterns, improving bicycle and pedestrian connections and improving public transportation services and commuting options.

DOT employees headed to national skills event

Three Georgia Department of Transportation maintenance employees from the Northeast Georgia district are headed to a national competition this fall involving skills in operating equipment.

Reggie Wright and James Newberry of Gainesville and Jock Gosnell of Clarkesville advanced because of their placement in the state’s DOT Roadeo last week.

The Roadeo is an annual competition to determine the best drivers in six categories: Single Axle Dump Truck, Double Axle Dump Truck, Tractor Mower, Backhoe, Motor Grader and Lowboy.

Wright, who placed first in Single Axle Dump Truck, is an equipment operator working in Dawson, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Hall counties.

Newberry, who placed second in Single Axle Dump Truck, is a mechanic working in the district shop.

Gosnell, who placed second in Backhoe, is a maintenance equipment operator for the district bridge maintenance crew.

Another employee, Johnny Cantrell, placed third in Tractor Mower. He is an assistant foreman on the Lumpkin County crew and lives in Suches.

“The (employees’) display of technical skills is amazing,” District Engineer Bayne Smith said. “(They) performed intricate maneuvers with each piece of equipment, including parallel parking, driving forward and backward through an obstacle course while being timed.

“Their level of expertise is unparalleled, even when working in dangerous conditions.”

Clarks Bridge detour in place until July 26

A summer detour is in place at the bridge replacement project on Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road.

No through traffic at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue will be allowed until July 26, according to the DOT.

The closure is taking place so a pedestrian tunnel can be built.

Ga. 284’s grade must be raised by 3 feet to accommodate the new concrete tunnel, which will be 10 feet wide, 8 feet high and 63 feet long.

“Traffic cannot continue to flow in as crews change the grade” and build the tunnel, stated a DOT news release.

Motorists will be able to reach the venue by traveling north on Ga. 284 from U.S. 129/Limestone Parkway, as the bridge will remain open. To access the parking and boat ramps at Clarks Bridge Park, vehicles must travel Ga. 284 northbound.

The DOT’s detour route has been set, involving Ga. 284, U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway and Ga. 52/Brookton-Lula Road.

The tunnel construction is part of a larger $8.7 million project that involves replacing Clarks Bridge, which was built in 1958 and, officials have said, does not meet current design standards.

When completed, the new bridge will have 12-foot lanes and an 8-foot shoulder in each direction.

The project is set for completion by Dec. 31, 2015.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:

jgill@gainesvilletimes.com

facebook.com/jeffagill

@JeffGTimes


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