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Roads group balks on Ga. 347 funding

POSTED: August 12, 2014 3:24 p.m.

Funding for Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway improvements between McEver Road and Lake Lanier Islands hit a bump Tuesday, when a roads planning group decided to hold off assigning money for the project.

A couple of members of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s decision-making policy committee, particularly Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, said they saw higher road priorities in Gainesville and Hall County than the Ga. 347 project.

“I’ve been on that (Ga. 347 segment) many times and I’ve never seen that much of a traffic problem,” he said.

“I think there’s other funding that needs to be done besides that,” Dunagan said.

Addressing Richard Mecum, Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman, he added, “Gainesville’s got projects and you have projects that you think need to be improved more than that.”

“I do,” Mecum said, nodding in agreement.

The chairman has tried, unsuccessfully, to get the policy committee to make the widening of Spout Springs Road in South Hall its top priority.

The Ga. 347 discussion was spurred by a vote to amend the MPO’s 2012-17 Transportation Improvement Program to reflect higher costs for various projects.

The committee approved most of the measure, including $1 million for right-of-way acquisition in replacing the Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road bridge over the Chattahoochee River, an increase from nearly $800,000.

Also, construction of the Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway bridge over the Chestatee River is now at $12.9 million, compared to an earlier estimate of $10.4 million.

The 2012-17 plan now also features Flowery Branch’s Lights Ferry Connector planned for the downtown area.

The proposed change in the Ga. 347 project was that $5 million, including $4 million in federal funding, has been identified for right-of-way acquisition. Currently, no state or federal money is assigned for that phase of work.

Another $5.4 million, including $4.3 million in federal funding, already has been assigned in the 2012-17 plan for the project’s construction.

The 2«-mile project features a two-way left-turn lane, right-turn lanes as needed, a multiuse path and sidewalks and a traffic circle near Lanier Islands Community Church at 6302 Lanier Islands Parkway, off New Bethany and Big Creek roads.

In assessing the policy committee’s vote, Srikanth Yamala, the MPO’s director, said the panel “wanted to put (the project) on hold to have a better understanding as to where the money is coming from and to see if the money could be spent on other projects within Hall County.

“I don’t think any determination has been made to not support this project.”

Meanwhile, other work is taking place on Ga. 347 between McEver Road and Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway in Braselton.

The Georgia Department of Transportation projects are divided into two pieces: McEver to Interstate 985, with completion set for Nov. 30; and I-985 to Ga. 211, with completion set for January 2016.


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