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Hall gearing up for more road work

Engineer: Winter rain has not been good for construction

POSTED: March 14, 2013 12:24 a.m.

OAKWOOD — Hall County road construction may be most obvious in South Hall, but motorists could see orange barrels throughout the area in coming years.

The Georgia Department of Transportation’s biggest project since the Exit 16 makeover at Interstate 985 a few years ago is Ga. 347 improvements stretching from Lake Lanier Islands to Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway.

DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith talked about projects along that road — planned or ongoing and being done in three phases — during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual transportation forum at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville.

Under construction is a merchant-lined segment between McEver Road and I-985.

“I get lots of calls from businesses in that area,” Smith told the large group gathered for the forum. “Some of you may be on that corridor.

“We’ve had a lot of challenges with the (winter’s) rain, which is very good for Lake Lanier but not very good for construction.”

Crews also are working to widen to four and six lanes in a mostly residential stretch between I-985 and Ga. 211.

The DOT also is looking at adding a center turn lane to Ga. 347 between McEver Road and Lake Lanier Islands. Sidewalks will be on one side and a multiuse trail on the other side.

“That’s a tight road (with) a lot of right-of-way issues and tough turns in there,” Smith said.

A public hearing is set for the project this summer.

The project features a roundabout at New Bethany and Big Creek roads, Smith noted.

“That has generated some interest,” he added.

Elsewhere, the state is gearing up for an $8.7 million effort to replace the 55-year-old Clarks Bridge on Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road at Lake Lanier.

Work is expected to start this spring or summer, with completion set for Dec. 31, 2015.

The new two-lane bridge will feature bike lanes, sidewalks and a 63-foot pedestrian tunnel.

Officials have said the new bridge will be 952 feet long, nearly 50 feet wide and have five columns in Lake Lanier. Bike lanes and sidewalks will run along Ga. 284 for 2,781 feet.

All totaled, the bridge and approaches to the structure will run for more than a half-mile.

The current bridge, built in 1958, is 834 feet long and nearly 24 feet wide.

Smith went through a list of other projects being planned, including replacing a bridge on Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway at the Chestatee River, widening U.S. 129 from Ga. 323/Gillsville Highway to the Pendergrass Bypass and widening Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway from Sawnee Drive in Buford to Ga. 347.

He also talked about plans to replace Browns Bridge on Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road, widen Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road from Ga. 136/Price Road and build a new interchange (Exit 14) between Flowery Branch and South Hall.

DOT Commissioner Keith Golden also spoke, saying he was concerned about future federal funding.

Congress has to act by March 27 to prevent a partial shutdown of the government.

Georgia gets $1.2 billion in federal money, but “to date this year, it has received $560 million,” Golden said.

“We’re basically not going to have a capital construction program if they don’t approve a continuing resolution,” or legislation to keep the government running, he said.

Also speaking was Nicole Spivey, senior transportation planner for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the lead transportation planning agency for Hall County.

She updated several projects that have been of longtime MPO concern, such as the widening of Spout Springs Road from Hog Mountain Road to Gwinnett County.


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