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Planning board votes to make Exit 14 project top priority

Spout Springs Road widening to be discussed Dec. 6

POSTED: November 7, 2012 11:30 p.m.

The governing board for Hall County’s transportation planning arm, the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, voted Wednesday to make the proposed Exit 14 interchange off Interstate 985 its top priority.

The vote was split among Policy Committee members, with Alan Wayne, Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs and Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller supporting the move. The group’s chairman, Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, was opposed.

“There are (a) lot of other roads in (Hall County) that need work besides Exit 14,” Dunagan said.

Scroggs, who pushed for Exit 14’s top placement, told the committee he believed the move shows “support for the industry and commercial (development) that we have, that we have demonstrated in (that) area.”

Officials at King’s Hawaiian, a California-based bakery that began operating a plant off H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway last year, “are still asking me is (Exit 14) going to happen and when is it going to happen,” Scroggs said.

“This is something we have committed (to) and promised we would work on,” he added.

Exit 14, between Oakwood and Flowery Branch in South Hall, has been in the works for years as a way to help move traffic between two major arteries, McEver Road and Falcon Parkway. The proposed road would start at H.F. Reed, cross I-985 and connect with Martin Road.

The project was one of nine Hall County proposed as part of the 1-percent transportation sales tax, which failed in a July 31 referendum.

Two years ago, the MPO designated widening U.S. 129/Athens Highway as its top priority. Since then, the project has moved along with design and engineering, as well as right-of-way acquisition.

Another key project, which will be discussed at a Dec. 6 public hearing in South Hall, is the widening of Spout Springs Road from Hog Mountain Road to Gwinnett County.

Jody Woodall, Hall County civil engineer, said the Georgia Department of Transportation “has identified some funding for right of way” for the project in 2015-16.

The U.S. 129 and Spout Springs projects “are already in progress. They’re already under way,” Scroggs said. “This (Exit 14 move) doesn’t affect them at all.”

Also joining the discussion was Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

She said the chamber’s Transportation Task Force has reviewed and ranked key area projects, saying it believed the most important project was U.S. 129, then, in order: Spout Springs Road, improvements at Jesse Jewell and John Morrow parkways in Gainesville, Exit 14 and the Sardis Road Connector in West Hall.

Dunlap said Jesse Jewell at John Morrow “is the second-most congested intersection in Hall County ... and that would (bring) some relief to downtown Gainesville.”

As for Exit 14, “Yes, it’s important and has lots of connections,” she said. “It has economic development (potential), but we felt like (aside from some right-of-way acquisition), we didn’t need to put all of our eggs in that basket.”


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