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Eyes on the Road: Speeding near new park near Ga. 284 concerns resident

POSTED: September 30, 2013 12:26 a.m.

Hall County officials recently changed the speed limit on the road leading to the new Don Carter State Park off Lake Lanier, but nearby North Hall resident Terry Roberts is still concerned about drivers hotfooting through the area.

Roberts, who has complained to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office about the problem, said speeders are common along Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road in both directions to North Browning Bridge Road, which leads to the park. Motorists are prone to tailgate and pass motorists abiding by the 55 mph speed limit.

“And that’s a blind hill that you turn to go to (the park),” said Roberts, who lives off Ga. 284.

He described the road as a popular cut-through for commuters from North Hall and beyond traveling to Gainesville, instead of using U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway.

“They’ll come down through there, putting makeup on and half asleep.” Roberts said.

He got the tag number of one motorist “who would pass people on double lines and in curves — it didn’t matter,” he said. “(The driver) would run 70-80 mph.”

Last month, the Hall County Board of Commissioners voted to change the speed limit on North Browning Bridge, a 1.86-mile, mostly tree-lined road that runs from Clarks Bridge to the park, from 40 mph to 35 mph.

County staff recommended the reduction because of “a substantial increase in traffic along this roadway, the types of vehicles and roadway geometric issues.”

About 60,000 people visited the park between its unofficial opening on July 15 and dedication by Gov. Nathan Deal and other officials on Sept. 16, Park Manager Will Wagner said.

“The speed limit should be 45 on the whole road,” Roberts said.

So far, nothing appears to be in the works addressing Roberts’ concerns.

Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton said “he hasn’t heard of any complaints” concerning Clarks Bridge speeding.

“The county has not requested we review the speed limit be(ing) lowered,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, which sets the speed limit on state roads.

Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, sheriff’s office spokesman, said speeding complaints along the road “are a constant.”

“Periodically, our traffic enforcement unit will spend time in the area in an effort to reduce the overall speed of drivers through deterrence and voluntary compliance,” he said. “But they have many other roadways in the county with similar complaints, so they have to move around a lot.”

High speeds, combined with the road having many sharp turns and little if any shoulders, “can make Clarks Bridge Road somewhat hazardous,” Wilbanks said.

He advised motorists pay close attention.

“Put down the phone, allow more room between you and the car in front of you, and be alert for other vehicles entering the roadway from blind driveways or intersections,” Wilbanks said.

Ga. 284 is about to become a more interesting ride for motorists, as a DOT project to replace Clarks Bridge on Ga. 284 at Lake Lanier gets underway.

The $8.7 million project will involve construction of a new bridge next to the old one, then demolition of the old one. The overall project completion date is Dec. 31, 2015.

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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