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Eyes on the Road: Gainesville plan for transportation suggests building new roadways

POSTED: June 24, 2013 12:26 a.m.

Officials are considering several key transportation changes, including construction projects, as part of the Gainesville transportation master plan.

Among those is either widening Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or converting it to one way in both travel lanes at the same time as converting parallel High Street to a one-way, two-lane road. The one-way roads would travel in opposite directions — in effect, operating as a four-lane road, but without the right-of-way impacts.

Both roads travel between Wills Street, east of Ga. 60/Queen City Parkway, to Carlton Street, north of U.S. 129/E.E. Butler Parkway. MLK continues on to Downey Boulevard.

At a transportation focus group meeting Thursday night, Norcross-based firm Pond & Co., the city’s consultant on the project, also suggested a new interchange between Exit 22 and Exit 24 — essentially an Exit 23.

“We may pull something off Downey Boulevard and reconfigure that into a new interchange,” said Richard Fangmann, Pond’s director of transportation planning. “The other part of that is it would be tieing that into ... a future development area for the city.”

Another proposal calls for a new roadway connecting the Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway area to Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road that is closer to Gainesville than the planned Sardis Connector.

“There’s potential to go down Dixon Drive, but you’re putting folks into a very congested area when, really, a lot of the demand is (farther out),” Fangmann said.

He said one possible westside connection is Ahaluna Drive off Dawsonville Highway, possibly tying into Oakland Drive or “as far down as Enota Avenue” on the eastern side of the road.

“This would take a whole study because you’re crossing (Lake Lanier),” Fangmann said.

Largely driving the transportation study are population projections for Gainesville and Hall County.

Speaking last week to the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education, Mayor Danny Dunagan said Gainesville’s population alone could hit 163,000 by 2040.

“We’re at 35,000 right now, so that’s quite a grow,” said Dunagan, who pushed for the city study through the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall’s lead transportation planning agency.

An open-house forum on the transportation plan is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St.

The focus group’s final meeting is set for July 25 and the last communitywide meeting is scheduled for Aug. 1

The final plan will go to the Gainesville City Council, but its last stop is with the MPO’s decision-making Policy Committee.

Projects will be integrated to the agency’s short-term Transportation Improvement Program and long-term Metropolitan Transportation Plan, said Srikanth Yamala, MPO director.

“And then, going forward, we would have to look at securing funding for those projects,” Yamala said.

Work getting underway on East Hall bridge replacement

Design is expected to start within a couple of weeks on a new bridge on Bryant Quarter Road at the North Oconee River near Gillsville.

That work could last a couple of months and then construction will begin, Hall County Engineer Kevin McInturff said.

The estimated completion on the project is Nov. 15.

“It’s not in any danger of failing, but (the bridge) is to (a) point where (it) is way outdated,” McInturff said.

The work will result in a road closure. Bryant Quarter runs between Ga. 82/Holly Springs Road and Ga. 52 in downtown Gillsville.

The project will be paid for through Hall County special purpose local option sales tax money and Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant funding, McInturff said.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:

jgill@gainesvilletimes.com

facebook.com/jeffagill

@JeffGTimes


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