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Connector proposal causing a public stir

Ga. 53-Ga. 60 link would include bridge over Lake Lanier

POSTED: August 1, 2013 11:41 p.m.

Public attention on Gainesville’s Transportation Master Plan has turned from Green Street to a proposed route that would connect Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway to Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road and feature a bridge over Lake Lanier.

A grass-roots movement is in the works, as Stacy Reimer and Nick Ditta brought a yellow flyer addressing the issue with them to a community open-house meeting Thursday night at the Gainesville Civic Center.

The couple fears such as road would be a double whammy for them, steering traffic away from their business, Bruster’s Real Ice Cream, at 165 John W. Morrow Parkway, and their house off Oakland Drive.

“It’s a cute little community. Why would they want to mess it up?” Reimer said, speaking of Thompson Bridge Road neighborhoods near her home.

The city is hoping to wrap up its transportation plan in August, working with its Norcross-based consultant, Pond & Co.

Earlier on Thursday, city and Pond officials updated the Gainesville City Council on the transportation plan’s progress.

Later this year, the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization — Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency — will consider the plan for inclusion in its short-term and long-term plans. The MPO’s long-term plan features projects in time periods, or tiers, through 2040.

Officials have released a list of recommended improvements, specifically targeting such congested areas as Green Street, Jesse Jewell Parkway and Dawsonville Highway.

One suggestion calls for the road connecting Ga. 53 to Ga. 60. A map shows the route possibly affecting such streets as Ahaluna, Skyview, Mountainview and Springview drives. Oakland Drive is south of Mountainview.

The proposal met opposition last week from a transportation focus group charged with giving public input to the plan.

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said he saw the county’s Sardis Connector project, which is farther out in the county, as addressing that travel pattern.

The flyer Reimer and Ditta had with them asks to “Say ‘No’ to increasing traffic in this neighborhood!” and “demand the original Sardis plan be implemented.”

For many years, Hall County planners and engineers have studied building a four-lane road from the Sardis area to Thompson Bridge, possibly in the Mount Vernon Road area. Right-of-way acquisition is projected to cost $24 million. Construction is expected to run about $46.3 million.

Potential improvements on Green Street remains a major concern for residents, such as Richard and Anne Phillips Lea.

They said they believe officials should consider another option: building a center turn lane for motorists in either direction.

“I know you would have to take some sidewalks, but maybe a meandering sidewalk on the side would be nice,” Anne said.

The couple said they are opposed to a ban on left turns from Green to side streets — a proposal meant as a short-term solution — believing it could be hurtful to businesses lining the road.

The busy road is a major artery moving traffic from downtown to North Hall via Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road and U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway. Running through a historic district, it has long been a source of backups and other troubles, such as flooding during torrential rains.

Another possible short-term fix recommended by Pond calls for restriping the road to “unbalanced lanes.” Green now has four lanes — two for southbound traffic and two for northbound. Unbalanced calls for one lane for southbound traffic, two lanes for northbound traffic and a center turn lane.


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