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Governments seek money for road projects

POSTED: November 10, 2013 11:47 p.m.

Three area governments are seeking state grants to help pay for $2.8 million in road projects — one in Gainesville and two in South Hall County.

Flowery Branch is hoping to secure either a $986,410 grant or a loan for a $1.43 million project, the Lights Ferry Connector, which would give motorists straight passage from Interstate 985 to McEver Road, according to the State Road and Tollway Authority.

Also, the agency said, Gainesville is seeking $835,450 for nearly $1 million in intersection improvement projects on Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road/Jesse Jewell Parkway.

And Hall County has applied for $164,000 in a $370,160 effort to provide a bike path/sidewalk from Flowery Branch High School to the Hall County Library System’s Sprout Springs branch.

All the governments are seeking the money from SRTA’s Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank.

SRTA, a state-created authority that operates toll roads, including high-occupancy-toll lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, announced Sept. 3 it was accepting applications from local governments and community improvement districts for the funding through the bank.

The deadline has passed for this year’s program, which doesn’t require a match from local governments.

However, officials have said, a monetary pledge toward a project may give a government an edge against other applicants vying for the same money.

According to SRTA, 16 community improvement districts and local governments have received nearly $20 million in grants and loans for more than $113 million in transportation improvements since 2010.

In their application, Flowery Branch officials said the Lights Ferry Connector would “provide a critical link to connect the major roadways ... that abut downtown.

“This new segment of roadway and its accompanying roundabout will eliminate a cumbersome route that is unsafe and deters economic development.”

The project would involve a realignment of Snelling Mill Road so it connects with Lights Ferry. The roundabout would be built at that connection, which also involves Mitchell Street.

“The city is willing to commit the funds necessary to complete this project,” states the application.

The county’s application speaks to a larger project under development, the widening of Spout Springs Road between I-985 in Flowery Branch and Thompson Mill Road in Braselton.

“Currently, there are no sidewalks and little roadway shoulders along Spout Springs Road,” the application states. “These improvements will provide and promote the option for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, resulting in reduced traffic congestion.”

The application says, to round out project costs, it expects $116,000 in federal funding for the project and $90,160 from Hall’s special purpose local option sales tax.

Gainesville’s Ga. 369 project calls for extending the eastbound right-turn lane at E.E. Butler Parkway, building a westbound right-turn lane at West End Avenue and building an eastbound right-turn lane at Auburn Avenue.

“This is obviously designed to improve our levels of service, or traffic delays, on Ga. 369,” Traffic Engineer Dee Taylor has said.

The city plans to contribute nearly $200,000 toward the project, which would come from unspent money in the fiscal 2012 street resurfacing program.

Gainesville had considered “one big project” from a master transportation plan that has been developed by the city and its consultant, Pond & Co. of Norcross, but decided instead “to spread the available funds around to a few smaller projects so as to have a larger improvement and benefit to the community,” Taylor said.

He has said SRTA will start releasing who met grant and loan qualifications sometime in early 2014.


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