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Johnny Vardeman: In times of wider roads, congestion still a problem
Johnny Vardeman

Some might remember when cars could park on Gainesville’s Green Street. It would be a stretch for anybody still living to remember when street cars ran on the street out past Riverside Military Academy to what was then called Chattahoochee Park way before Lake Lanier rose.

Nor would anybody remember when horses and buggies, mules and wagons plodded into town on Green Street.

It seems like it’s always been like it is today, a narrow four-lane, the primary way to get into town from the north. Talk about widening the street comes up even today, but most residents and others using the street seem to prefer keeping it the way it is, preserving the unique character, keeping the street looking pretty much the way it was when the houses were occupied by residents rather than businesses.

The street is a local historic district, meaning any big changes have to be scrutinized before they can be made.

Most Green Street homes had transitioned toward offices by the 1970s. Few maintained residences along the street.

There was somewhat of a controversy when the old Rudolph home at 704 Green St. would become the first restaurant on the street. Dixon Rudolph had petitioned the city to allow “a custom service restaurant,” but opponents worried about setting a precedent, increased traffic, even alcoholic beverages being sold on the street. Rudolph prevailed, however, and the old homeplace became a fine dining restaurant, and is now Mellow Mushroom pizza place.

Another major change was on the northeast side of the city. For years, people had wanted what they called a “northeast bypass” to take traffic off Green Street and other arteries, including the congested Cleveland Road. Finally, Limestone Parkway was built in the 1980s, and today is a busy four-lane that birthed a Winn-Dixie supermarket, J&J Foods and numerous other businesses, professional offices and assisted living homes. The two supermarkets are gone now, but Kroger replaced them at the east end of Limestone and spawned several restaurants and other businesses around the intersection of Jesse Jewell Parkway.

Limestone Parkway obviously helps, but traffic still backs up on Cleveland Road/Park Hill Drive during rush hours.

Jesse Jewell is another four-lane thoroughfare that once was a two-laner, called Broad Street on its west end and Spring Street on the east. It, too, is a congested route that runs by downtown Gainesville and is filled with medical facilities, Northeast Georgia Medical Center and various other enterprises.

Others around Gainesville that have been widened and are home to numerous commercial developments include Brown’s Bridge Road, parts of Dawsonville Highway and the West Bypass or Pearl Nix Parkway that extends from Gainesville High School and Longwood Park all the way to Queen City Parkway, another major route that connects to I-985.

All of those projects were talked about for years and have been completed within the last few decades. One that is left undone is Martin Luther King Drive, formerly Myrtle Street. Local officials have discussed widening this one, too, but found it not feasible in the immediate future.


Before football playoffs, and perhaps still today, fans were arguing about the No. 1 team in the nation. Alabama, under Coach Bear Bryant in 1979, was in the mix as it has been in recent years. The Crimson Tide beat Penn State in the Sugar Bowl 14-7, and the Associated Press proclaimed them No. 1. But Southern Cal beat Ohio State 17-16 in the Rose Bowl, and United Press International named it No. 1.

No controversy today about Clemson being No. 1 after clobbering Alabama.

1979 also was the year Gainesville got its first black council member, John Morrow, and Toccoa its first black mayor, L.J. Harrison. 

That year also Gainesville and Hall County said it would be best to have a single water system, but it never happened. Dahlonega Jaycees were raising $250,000 to put Lumpkin County gold on the dome of the state capitol.


Bidding started last week on pottery in a fund-raising auction by the White County Historical Society.

The money will be used to complete the installation of the bronze potter statue at the courthouse museum in Cleveland.

Among pottery to be auctioned are pieces from the collection of White County potter Mrs. Jessie Meaders, Michael and Melvin Crocker, the late Anita Meaders and Ferguson potters.

Anonymous bids can be made at the courthouse museum 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday until Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.

Winning bidders also will receive an autographed copy of “Memories Etched in Pott’ry” by Emory Jones.

Watch for more local history in this column next Sunday.

Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. His column appears Sunday.