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Eyes on the Road: Key road meetings set this week

POSTED: October 13, 2013 11:31 p.m.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, which serves as Hall County’s lead transportation planning group, is holding a couple of key meetings this week.

Its Technical Coordinating Committee, set to meet at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, will address proposed changes to the MPO’s 2012-17 transportation plan.

For one, right-of-way acquisition costs have increased to $698,666 from $406,994 for a project involving a new bridge on Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway at the Chestatee River and nearly $3.7 million from $3.2 million for a project involving the widening of Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway from Sawnee Avenue to Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway.
The Ga. 347 project runs through Buford, with stretches in Gwinnett and Hall counties.

“As each project gets closer to right-of-way acquisition beginning, we do a more detailed right-of-way cost estimate and that detailed estimated raised the cost of rights of way,” said Teri Pope, Georgia Department of Transportation district spokeswoman.

“Property costs have rebounded slightly in our area, but the real cause here is (the) more detailed look at the impacts on the corridor and estimating the costs of acquisition.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, officials are expected to give a presentation on a draft civil rights and “environmental justice” analysis, which shows, in part, where road projects are being done in relation to minority and poor populations.

The MPO’s Citizens Advisory Committee, set to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday, is scheduled to get an update on Gainesville’s Master Transportation Plan from Richard Fangmann, director of transportation planning for Norcross-based consultant Pond & Co.

Pond is developing a list of transportation projects and scheduling them in three time frames, or tiers — 2013-20, 2021-30 and 2031-40.

“The city and MPO are currently reviewing the draft transportation plan,” Fangmann said last week. “We should receive their comments soon, then we will address comments and have a report that can be distributed.”
He said he expects the report will be released in the next few weeks.

The city’s projects will be considered as part of next year’s update of the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
That process is set to begin in January and be completed by August 2015, said Sam I. Baker, the MPO’s senior transportation planner.

Both MPO committee meetings will take place at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

DOT official to give update on federal transportation law

The State Transportation Board is set to meet at the Coastal Georgia Center in Savannah on Wednesday and Thursday.

Josh Waller, DOT’s director of policy and government affairs, is scheduled to give an update on the reauthorization of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, a 27-month federal transportation bill.

State and local officials have expressed concerns about future federal funding.

The federal law provides funding through most of next year. However, in an April report, the Congressional Budget Office said the “current trajectory of the Highway Trust Fund is unsustainable” and that starting in fiscal year 2015, “the trust fund will have insufficient amounts to meet all of its obligations, resulting in steadily accumulating shortfalls.”

Most major projects — and Hall County has a few on the board — are funded by federal and state dollars.

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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