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Connector plan meets dead end
Hall, Gainesville planning group still wants to link Ga. 60 to Ga. 365
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Routes that would have placed the Northern Connector through the properties of homeowners near Lake Lanier have been scrapped by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The proposed Northern Connector will eventually connect Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road to Ga. 365.

In a 3-2 vote, members of the organization voted to remove the routes from the table for consideration as the group works to update a transportation plan featuring projects through 2040.

While the organization voted to eliminate the four proposed routes that drew criticism from the Lake Lanier Community Preservation Association, the overall Northern Connector concept, also known as GH-066, remains on the docket.

“GH-066, which is currently on the adopted long-range transportation plan, is the only Northern Connector concept that would move forward as part of a larger evaluation process,” said Randy Knighton, Hall County Planning and Zoning director.

Oakwood Mayor Lamar Scroggs, Georgia Department of Transportation representative Tom McQueen and Sam Chapman, voting by proxy for Hall County Commission representative Tom Oliver voted in favor of the motion. Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras and Flowery Branch Mayor Diane Hirling voted against the motion.

“I am going to make a personal statement. I believe that if we do not plan, then the future will just happen to us,” said Myrtle Figueras, organization chair.

“I believe that the county did a premature vote and I believe that we did a premature vote here also, because this study was for the year 2040 there was nothing for us to vote on.”

In September, the Hall County Commission approved a motion suggesting that the planning organization eliminate the proposed routes, which would have required building bridges over Lake Lanier.

Around 100 members of the Lake Lanier preservation group attended the planning meeting Tuesday morning.

Knighton volunteered to meet with the group to “come up with a Northern Connector (route) or a recommendation that can formally be introduced by the Lake Lanier Community Preservation Association” as the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan is updated.

“We appreciate your confidence in us, please understand that we are not planners, but we would be honored to serve in that role in an advisory capacity only,” said Debbie Lawson Davis, who is a member of the preservation group.

“We agree there is a need for a Northern Connector is some capacity, all you have to do is drive the roads to see that quite clearly.”

The Northern Connector concept grew out of the Northern Connector Technical Study. Because the previous routes have been removed from the table, county staff will work to come up with new proposed routes that will satisfy the goal of creating a connection between east and west portions of Hall County. The further study may also address a possible connector in the southern portion of the county.