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Mayor: Ban on left turns could be good for Green Street

POSTED: May 8, 2013 12:40 a.m.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said Tuesday he wants the Georgia Department of Transportation to look at banning left turns on Green Street.

He made the comment during the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee meeting at the Hall County Government Center.

“I think it would move traffic tremendously to ban left turns on Green Street,” Dunagan said.

“At 8 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 5 o’clock, you just can’t move on that street. If somebody is taking a left, it’s jockeying for position or this, that and the other.”

Matthew Fowler, the DOT’s assistant planning administrator and a Policy Committee member, said he would refer the matter to the district traffic operations engineer.

Dunagan added, “Of course, there’s got to be enforcement as part of it. We can do the enforcement as long as we can get the DOT to go along with us.”

Green Street traffic has long been a thorny issue for motorists.

It starts at Spring Street downtown near the Hall County Courthouse, then doglegs north, past a junction at E.E. Butler Parkway and to a fork that splits between Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road and Ga. 11/Riverside Drive.

Between E.E. Butler and the fork, Green is a four-lane road, hugged tightly on either side by historic buildings.

Along that busy stretch, left turns onto Green from Holly Drive, North Avenue, Candler Street, Forrest Avenue and the U.S. post office are prohibited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Green Street traffic was the hot topic at an April 18 meeting of a 10-member focus group that’s been created to provide public input on a transportation master plan for the city.

The topic of no left turns for Green Street motorists came up at the meeting, with one member, Stan Appleton, saying to the group, “Is not a quick fix ... just no left turns from 7:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon?”

The city’s traffic engineer, Dee Taylor, said that “one of the things with no left turns is proper signage.”

In talking with the Georgia Department of Transportation, he said, abolishing left turns would mean putting up “two poles on either side and an overhead mounted sign, so then, we get back to the aesthetics issue.”

In earlier comments, Taylor said the city had looked at widening the busy street “to some degree or another, dancing around all the trees and that sort of thing.”

But the consideration has been improvements that keep the quaint character of the road intact, “so we’re not transforming it into a Thompson Bridge Road.”

Following Tuesday’s MPO meeting, Dunagan said that five or six years ago the city made a similar request of the DOT and got a denial.

“We’re going to ask it again,” he said.

Teri Pope, DOT district spokeswoman, said the DOT and Gainesville “have discussed the pros and cons of prohibiting left turn lanes on Green Street at the staff level several times, but have never conducted a formal study.”

“If city leadership wants to pursue that option, we would be open to it,” she said.


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