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Costs rise for South Hall road widening
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Costs have more than doubled for right-of-way acquisition in the planned widening of Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway in South Hall County.

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

“About every way possible, the right-of-way prices went up,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We added parcels to the project. Some (parcels) that were residential turned commercial. Some of our impacts were bigger than we expected, where we thought we might could get an easement and we ended up having to buy land instead of just using an easement.

“Add to that, the lake is right there as well,” she added, “and the property is certainly not going to be cheap in that area.”

GDOT revised the cost estimate earlier in the year.

“The costs are not expected to go up anymore,” Pope said.

Funds come from federal and state gas taxes, she added. Hall County commissioners voted in January to contribute $500,000 for right-of-way acquisition, as well.

The different price will be reflected in the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Improvement Plan, as required by federal law.

“If any costs go up more than 10 percent in an area that’s an MPO, then an adjustment has to be made to their TIP,” Pope explained.

Sam Baker, senior transportation planner with the organization, confirmed that a change will be made.

“We are simply updating our documents to reflect their estimate,” Baker said.

A public comment period on the change runs through July 12, with the MPO expected to adopt the amendment at a scheduled Aug. 11 meeting.

The $10.2 million is for “... 70 parcels on (a) 2.4 mile-long project,” Pope wrote via email. The project, widening the road to three lanes, will feature a 14-foot wide continuous center turn lane from McEver Road “almost to the entrance” of Lanier Islands resort, she added.

The project also features a multiuse path on one side of the road and a sidewalk on the other. Additionally, the New Bethany Road intersection will be relocated and turn into a roundabout, with extra-wide lanes.

Pope said the DOT has already done some preliminary work on right-of-way acquisition, which is expected to take between one and two years. Construction is scheduled to begin in Fiscal Year 2017, which begins July 1, 2016.

“It’s dependent on how long it takes us to buy the right-of-way,” she said.

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