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Amid objections, Hall County sticks with Spout Springs expansion plan
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Residents of the Ivy Springs subdivision are anxious about the upcoming Spout Springs Road widening project and how it will affect access to their neighborhood. - photo by Scott Rogers

Spout Springs Road will be widened as planned despite heated objections from residents of the Ivy Springs subdivision.

On Thursday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to stick with the current design and plan after spending a few months on the backburner because of equally intense opposition from Ivy Springs in October.

At issue is the plan for the entrance of Ivy Springs, a 168-home subdivision about a mile south of Hog Mountain Road. There’s only one way in and out of the neighborhood, and when the road is widened to a divided highway the entrance will be limited to a right-in, right-out.

The plan will force residents of the area to turn right onto the widened Spout Springs traveling northbound at 40 mph. To get south, they’ll have to drive to Spout Spring’s intersection of Hog Mountain Road more than a mile away.

South of Ivy Spring there’s the Flowery Branch and Cherokee Bluffs high schools, Spout Springs Elementary School, the Spout Springs Library and Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

“That in itself would be reason for a traffic light — to protect our student drivers and parents going to those schools,” said Nancy Duncan, a resident of the subdivision who spoke on behalf of several other homeowners. She said the neighborhood felt ignored in its attempt to update the plans for the road to reflect their concerns.

Clark Pickett, president of the Ivy Springs homeowners association, said the plans for the neighborhood’s intersection with Spout Springs “would be way more than just an inconvenience for us. It will be a hazard.”

Residents of the subdivision said they thought it was inevitable that people would be hurt or killed trying to accelerate onto Spout Springs Road and cross multiple lanes of traffic in order to make it to turn left at the Hog Mountain intersection.

“With 168 homes in the subdivision, we easily have 400 drivers,” Duncan said. “That’s not counting the non-residents who are just coming in and out.”

County Public Works Director Ken Rearden said the federal funding involved in the project has locked the county into the current design with the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is managing the road expansion. To change the plan now would cost more than $500,000 and delay the project at least a year.

“We’re in the queue for this road to be funded and widened,” Rearden said, “and we don’t want to get out of that queue with the state and federal government.”

The right of way purchase alone will cost $21.67 million, which is being funded by GDOT using federal highways cash.

Getting kicked out of the line could delay the project more than a year because of the long-term schedules kept by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Instead, Hall County is proposing to finish the road as designed and, once completed, perform another traffic study to investigate whether the traffic light is needed.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Kathy Cooper, who represents the district including Ivy Springs, said it was more dangerous to delay the project and keep Spout Springs as a two-lane road.

“The wisest and safest thing to do is to finish the road and revisit this study, and at that time I feel like that’s when we’ll be able to do something about that intersection and correcting it,” Cooper said. “I’m not willing to take the risk to postpone it, and it … wouldn’t come around for several years.”

The county intends to put the project out to bid in March 2019, Rearden said, and the road will be widened in two phases. The first phase will run from Hog Mountain Road to Union Circle, and the second phase stretches from Union Circle to the Gwinnett County line.

The Ivy Springs intersection will be revisited within a year of the road being widened.