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Citizens group wants Dawsonville Highway widening placed on fast track
0728DAWSONVILLE
A citizens transportation group Thursday recommended making the widening of Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 — one of Gainesville’s busiest roads — a short-term project.

A citizens transportation group Thursday recommended making the widening of Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 — one of Gainesville’s busiest roads — a short-term project.

The project, now part of Gainesville’s transportation plans, calls for widening the four-lane road to six lanes between Shallowford Road and Ahaluna Drive.

“I argue that it ought to keep going, but let’s get there,” said Brent Hoffman, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

“That’s a start,” member Renee Gerrell said, agreeing.

The committee is part of the structure of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall County area’s main transportation planning agency.

The policy committee, the MPO’s decision-making arm comprising top area elected officials, next meets on Aug. 8.

And that committee “is interested in Dawsonville Highway and is making certain changes as we speak,” said MPO Director Srikanth Yamala, who is also Hall’s planning director.

One of the potential traffic improvements, he said, is a connector between McEver Road and Dawsonville Highway.

Dawsonville Highway traffic particularly bunches up at the intersection of those two roads, but it also gets congested farther northwest to Ahaluna Drive, where commercial development has boomed. The road also is busy commercially heading east toward Gainesville.

“It does appear the policy committee is listening and that the powers that be are going to do something,” said Clyde Morris, who pushed the citizens group to recommend hurrying up the project.

“But until I see (this widening project) on these (planning) documents, it’s just a wish list.”

Dawsonville Highway has been a topic of much attention this year, heightened by a proposal that was eventually approved by Gainesville for a 860-home adult-oriented community off Ahaluna.

Several traffic-relief measures have been discussed.

The MPO is looking to pursue federal money for a traffic signal/intersection improvement study at Dawsonville Highway and McEver.

Also, Arcadis, an Atlanta-based consulting firm that works for DOT, was to compile traffic data on the road and consider potential improvements. The study should be completed this summer, officials have said.

And Gainesville has been working to expand a traffic monitoring system that allows employees “to observe, by live video, each intersection along this corridor and make immediate (signal) timing changes” as needed, Public Works Director Chris Rotalsky said earlier this year.

Morris spoke to an MPO committee in April about the urgent need for improvements

“What we’re looking at … is a tragedy that can be averted, but only if you take action,” he said. “... Get us some relief before we reach total gridlock.”

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