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Cost climbs for widening US 129 between Gainesville, Athens
Multiple area road projects see price tag rise
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Construction costs have gone up for the U.S. 129 widening from Ga. 323/Gillsville Highway to Pendergrass Bypass in Jackson County.

Construction costs are rising in a couple of key area road projects, including the long-awaited widening of U.S. 129/Athens Highway in East Hall County.

Federal and state funding is going up from a combined $26.5 million to $28.5 million in the project, which calls for a four-lane divided highway between Ga. 323/Gillsville Highway and the Pendergrass Bypass in Jackson County.

Also, utility-related costs are rising from $556,866 to nearly $1.5 million.

Construction costs also are going up in the widening of Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway from Sawnee Avenue in Gwinnett County to Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway in South Hall.

Construction is now estimated at $5.1 million, up from $4.3 million.

The new costs were approved as part of a resolution passed Wednesday by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s technical coordinating committee, a group of area engineers, planners and other government officials.

The resolution now goes before the MPO’s decision-making policy committee, a group of area elected leaders, which has final say on area transportation planning matters. The MPO serves as the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency.

“Project costs tend to increase over time due to inflation and rising cost of materials,” said Sam Baker, the MPO’s senior transportation planner.

The Georgia Department of Transportation “reviews costs of its projects from time to time and revises them,” he said.

This summer, officials passed a resolution factoring in more than doubling of costs for right of way acquisition in the planned widening of Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway.

Originally estimated to be $5 million, right-of-way acquisition for the project, which runs between McEver Road and Lanier Islands resort, is now at $10.25 million.

“About every way possible, the right of way prices went up,” district spokeswoman Teri Pope said at the time.

The U.S. 129 project is likely Hall’s next major project. It has been discussed for years by the DOT as a way to improve travel between interstates 985 and 85.

If the project is awarded in February, as officials hope, work could begin by late spring or early summer of 2016, Pope has said.

The work could take two to three years to complete.

The road is especially highly traveled during college football season in the fall, as the road serves as a main connector between Gainesville and Athens, where the University of Georgia is based.

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