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Eyes on the Road: DOT asked to consider extras for US 129 project

POSTED: May 7, 2014 12:31 a.m.

Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency has asked the Georgia Department of Transportation to consider bicycle and pedestrian paths as part of the widening of U.S. 129 between Limestone Parkway and Nopone Road in North Hall.

“This addition would be in line with the (DOT’s) Complete Streets policy and also would meet our region’s goal to expand and enhance such facilities,” said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan in a letter to the DOT.

Dunagan is chairman of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s decision-making policy committee.

“Complete streets” are roadways where sidewalks, bike paths and bus stops factor in with lanes for vehicular travel.

“This program makes it easy for the public to cross the street, walk to shops and bicycle to work,” according to the DOT’s website. “It also allows buses to run on time and make(s) it safe for people to walk to and from train stations.”

The U.S. 129 project also calls for replacing a two-lane bridge over the Chattahoochee River and a two-lane bridge over the East Fork of the Little River, both on Lake Lanier.

The DOT held a public meeting on the project in February at North Hall High School, drawing more than 200 people, many of whom were skeptical the long-proposed project would ever get going.

Money isn’t available yet to widen the road, but the DOT has “construction and right-of-way money identified for the bridges,” DOT district spokeswoman Teri Pope said at the time.

She added that when DOT officials hold another public meeting in 18 months to showcase “the best buildable route” for the project, “we’re hoping we’ll have that construction money identified.”

So, road designs aren’t set in stone and “that’s why we really need (public) input,” Pope said.

Dunagan said in the MPO letter that the agency looks forward “to continuing our partnership with the (DOT) and the eventual completion of this key segment along the U.S. 129 corridor.”

The widening of Athens Highway/U.S. 129 South to four lanes between Ga. 323/Gillsville Highway and the Pendergrass Bypass could end up being Hall’s next major project, with the DOT buying right of way along the segment. The overall cost of that project, including right of way, is nearly $65 million.

Ramsey Road project may be closer to reality

Hall County is accepting bids on improvements to Ramsey Road and Ga. 365 in northeast Hall.

A legal notice states “it is expected that this project will be awarded” June 12.

The project calls for a new signal light at the intersection and a new acceleration lane from Ramsey going south on Ga. 365. The project has a required completion date of Dec. 31.

The new signal would be the second in a 1-mile stretch along a busy section of Ga. 365, just north of where Interstate 985 ends.

The other is already at Howard Road, where wrecks have been a longtime concern, including one on July 12 that killed three people and injured six.

An April 2012 fatal crash triggered a public campaign to make improvements there — and much work has been done, including left-turn arrows on the traffic signal.

Even as that was happening, the focus on safety expanded north to Ramsey, which also leads to a heavily industrial area.

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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