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Dozens of South Hall County residents attend Spout Springs Road meeting
6-mile widening project would cost $104 million
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Phyllis Etheridge, a resident of the Spout Springs Road area, gets more information about $104 million Spout Springs Road project from Kevin D. York at a public hearing and open house Thursday at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Flowery Branch. Residents were able to check out the latest road plans on the 6-mile widening of Spout Springs Road in South Hall. - photo by Erin O. Smith

South Hall residents Frank and Judy Margavio don’t live on Spout Springs Road but sure drive it enough.

“We are interested in where we’ll be going,” Judy said.

That certainly was the case Thursday night with the dozens of other people studying road maps that lined both sides of the room inside Prince of Peace Catholic Church, which is off Spout Springs.

And residents, sometimes pointing at maps, also kept Hall County and Georgia Department of Transportation engineers busy with questions.

The county held the public meeting as another step in a long process to widening Spout Springs from two to four lanes between Hog Mountain Road in Flowery Branch and Thompson Mill Road in Braselton.

Other traffic improvements are planned on Spout Springs between Hog Mountain Road and Interstate 985.

Judy Margavio said she had trouble envisioning how the $104 million project would take place, given that the road not only is crowded with cars, especially at rush hour, but is packed on either side with schools, churches, homes and businesses.

“It looks unbuildable to me,” she said.

But officials are pushing hard with the 6-mile widening project, having completed a draft environmental assessment of the work and drawing closer to right-of-way acquisition.

The county’s proposed extension of the special purpose local option sales tax, which goes before voters March 17, includes $20 million for right of way.

The hearing is a required step in Hall County’s getting final environmental OK from the Federal Highway Administration.

The maps show what has been deemed the “best buildable route, meshing community input from the first (public) meeting with federal environmental law and engineering standards,” said Teri Pope, DOT district spokeswoman.

The first public open house on the project took place in December 2012 at the church.

The Margavios said they particularly are interested in access to Prince of Peace, where they, along with 3,700 other families, are members.

“Right now, we have one way in, one way out,” Frank Margavio said.

Their pastor, Father Eric Hill, said not to worry on that matter. The church is giving up some land so Elizabeth Lane can be straightened to connect with Sterling on the Lake’s entrance, an intersection that will feature a traffic signal.

But the church is working with DOT to ensure Prince of Peace will get access off Elizabeth Lane.

Dave Crumbley, who lives in Reunion Country Club, said he is concerned that current plans don’t call for a traffic light at the vast subdivision’s Spout Springs entrance.

“That’s a big issue,” he said.

But Crumbley said he hopes that closer to the time of the project — which is still years away — another traffic study will show the need, especially with the area’s ever-increasing population and continuing development.

David Phraner, who lives in Deaton Creek subdivision, said his neighborhood isn’t directly impacted by Spout Springs, but it would benefit from the widening project.

“And it’s needed,” he said.

After environmental approval, officials will begin plans for right-of-way acquisition.

Once those plans are approved, officials can “complete appraisals for the property and begin contacting homeowners,” said Jody Woodall, the county’s road projects manager, adding however that “actual offers may still be a little ways off.”

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