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County-church access road project moving forward
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Hall County is moving forward on a road project that is geared to improving access to the Hall County Government Center and providing overflow parking for neighboring Free Chapel.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted late last month to approve A&T Enterprises of Lula as the contractor on the project at a $132,436 cost — about $48,000 under the budgeted amount of $180,000.

Hall County expects to hold a “preconstruction” meeting next week with the contractor and work out project details, said Ken Rearden, Hall’s public works and utilities director.

“We are gearing up to get that job done,” he said.

The project’s startup date isn’t known, but “it’ll probably be 60-90 days to get it (completed),” Rearden said.

“(The construction company will) have to go out there and clear (property) and put up erosion-control measures, and do grading,” he said.

Plans call for the new road to stretch from the government center’s western parking lot — or the one closer to McEver Road — to Free Chapel’s parking lot, Rearden has said.

The government center is at 2875 Browns Bridge Road. Free Chapel is at 3001 McEver Road.

The 925-foot road would run parallel to McEver and end just north of the church’s retention pond.

The road project has been in the works since the county opened the government center in October, a move that resulted in most of the county’s operations consolidating under one roof.

The center, which sits on 33 acres, contains all of the county’s key operations and departments, such as the tax assessor and tax commissioner’s offices, as well as public works and development services.

It has 525 parking spaces, and those can fill up fast, especially during Hall County Board of Commissioners and other government meetings.

The nagging problem for visitors and employees has been access, with the center featuring only one way in and out, and that entrance/exit is on the busy four-lane Browns Bridge Road.

In September, the commissioners approved an agreement with Free Chapel, its neighbor to the south, that trades weekend parking availability at the government center for access to the church’s McEver Road driveway.

Free Chapel will be able to use the government center lot as overflow parking during weekend services.

In exchange, the church has donated an easement to the county that allows employees and the public to exit from the center to McEver Road. Free Chapel will also pay for the upkeep of the driveway.

Tim Kernen, administrator at Free Chapel, has said of the arrangement: “We desire to be a blessing to the community and felt this could be an opportunity to be a good neighbor to the new Hall County offices.

“We hope the road will be a benefit to both parties.”