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Brown Street getting long-awaited repairs
Brown Street is closed for extensive repairs. The Concerned Citizens of Gainesville and Hall County have worked to get county attention to the crumbling road. - photo by Tom Reed

Brown Street is finally getting a face-lift after years of attempts to get the road fixed.

Brown Street is the main entrance to the Morningside Heights area. Over the years, the road has become riddled with dips and potholes as pipes below the streets have collapsed.

Hall County Public Works closed the street Monday and will work to repair the road over the next few weeks.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden said crews will be installing 48-inch storm drains, guardrails and additional streetlights.

The old pipes below the street caused many problems for drivers, including dips and potholes in the road.

“They were collapsing,” Rearden said. “They were old corrugated metal pipe and probably too small, so we had to design a larger pipe to carry the water through there. Apparently it flooded at times there when we had heavy rains.”

The new pipe also will be made of concrete, which will be more durable.

Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell said though fixing Brown Street was one of his campaign platforms, the road has been a concern of his long before he was thinking of seeking office.

“The guardrails are essential. Just about every year there’s an accident on Brown Street,” Bell said. “At age 16, I went off the side of Brown Street and had to get pulled out. I grew up in that neighborhood and my parents still live there.”

Bell said he believes a combination of community activism and politics finally made Brown Street repairs a reality.

“Three things have to come together: you have to have the political will from the elected officials, you have to have the community’s support from the people who live there and you have to have the staff at the county level to get it done,” Bell said. “I think we’ve had those things at different times but I think this may be the first time we’ve had all three at the same time.”

Most recently, the Concerned Citizens of Gainesville/Hall County worked to get county officials to take note of the needs of the Morningside Heights neighborhood.

“Hall County told us that the most difficult part of a road improvement project is getting the right-of-way permits. It was challenging, but Concerned Citizens believes in open communication and that helped get everyone on board,” said Michelle Mintz, vice president of the group. “Brown Street is important as a safety-based, highly visible neighborhood improvement project, but it is only one piece of a community that is suffering from neglect.”

Bell said he thinks more road work could be done in that area in the future.

“It’s a priority of mine to make sure Brown Street and Floyd Road are taken care of,” he said. “Those roads are critical to the roughly 2,000 residents that are over there.”

Rearden said there was a lot of planning that had to be done before the construction could begin.

“We ended up having to obtain some right-of-way to extend those pipes out and build the shoulders properly,” Rearden said. “We wanted to wait until school was out to start this because it is a school bus route down Brown Street.”

Rearden said work will take place in two phases. Crew are currently repairing the section of road near its intersection of Eugene Drive. The road should be closed for no more than four weeks.

“We’re going to fix all the potholes in the road where this pipe was collapsed too, so the road’s going to be a lot smoother to drive on,” Rearden said.

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