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Motorists delight at end of Dawsonville Highway roadwork

POSTED: August 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Commuters are happy that the $30 million project of the Dawsonville Highway-Sardis Road intersection is complete.

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Randall Popham loves the visibility for his church but especially is grateful that the newly widened Dawsonville Highway has made traveling much easier for congregation members.

"They would always get stuck coming across the bridge (over Lake Lanier) or ... at the Sardis (Road) light backed up to the bridge," said Popham, senior pastor of Lanier Hills Church at 3129 Duckett Mill Road in West Hall.

The four-lane expansion "has probably cut off 10 to 15 minutes of their time to make it to church," he said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation officially finished the $30 million project Thursday, except for a "punch list" of last-minute items, said spokesman Mark McKinnon.

"They may do some minor grading or (planting grass) and things like that to basically just tie it up," he said. "And if there are any mistakes that were made, like an improper sign put somewhere, they’ll fix that."

Otherwise, "as far as lanes open and signals working, that is all completed," McKinnon said.

That’s good news for long-suffering commuters on that road.

Dawsonville Highway had been a rush-hour nightmare until the 3.24-mile stretch of Ga. 53 between Duckett Mill Road and Lake Ranch Court had been widened to four lanes, including medians, from two lanes.

The project also includes the four-lane widening of much-traveled Sardis Road from Dawsonville Highway to Chestatee Road. Eventual plans call for that four-lane road to continue to Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 in North Hall, a project now estimated to cost $20.5 million.

But for now, West Hall motorists can savor the new Dawsonville Highway.

"I know a lot of people would drive up to (Ga. 60) to Ledan Road and come down Sardis so they wouldn’t have to sit in traffic," Popham said. "I know I did that quite a bit."

Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell, whose district includes Dawsonville Highway, said he believes the project, more than anything, will ease traveling for motorists headed from Hall County to Ga. 400, a major thoroughfare into Atlanta as well as the North Georgia mountains.

"I think development will come (to the road)," Powell said. "Gainesville has designed sewer (access) for across the bridge ... to (around Sardis Road) and that has been implemented in the plans for this road widening.

"... They don’t want to build that — and I don’t blame them — in hopes the development will come. They want the development to drive the need for sewer."

Eventually, construction workers could return to Dawsonville Highway with their orange barrels.

In its long-range transportation plan, the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization has listed a widening of the road from Duckett Mill Road to the Hall County line, about a two-mile stretch.

That work, projected for 2014 to 2020, could cost about $15 million.



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