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Group plans to rescind vote that cut funding for Ga. 347 improvements

POSTED: August 13, 2014 6:10 p.m.

Worries about losing federal road money may force area officials to put funding back on track for Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway improvements between McEver Road and Lake Lanier Islands.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s decision-making policy committee plans to meet at 11 a.m. Friday to consider rescinding a vote taken Tuesday that held off assigning money for the project.

The “emergency meeting” is set to take place at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

As part of Tuesday’s vote, the committee had asked staff members to find out the impact of the move, particularly to see if funding for Ga. 347 could go instead to other regional projects with worse traffic problems.

“We found out (Wednesday) that the funding would be lost,” said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, chief opponent of the Ga. 347 funding. “We don’t want that (to happen).”

Tuesday’s 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, but excluded the proposed change in the Ga. 347 project. Officials had sought $5 million, including $4 million in federal funding, 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 is 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.

Dunagan said he saw higher road priorities in Gainesville and Hall County than the Ga. 347 project.

“I’ve been on that road many times and I’ve never seen that much of a traffic problem,” he said.

The funding that was approved included $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.


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