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Enota bypass plans scrapped in favor of widening, realigning existing roads
0415enota
Gainesville city documents show the current traffic routes through town and plans for where traffic could be routed with some road improvements.

New connector?

What: Gainesville City Council considering grant application for Ga. 60 Connector

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway

The much-maligned Enota Bypass has been ditched for now, with Gainesville officials looking instead at using existing streets to help steer traffic around one of the city’s busiest roads, Green Street.

City officials discussed plans Thursday calling for using existing state routes to connect Thompson Bridge Road to Limestone Parkway, Jesse Jewell Parkway and Interstate 985.

The project would call for widening and realigning Oak Tree Drive, which is between Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive, and a traffic light at its intersection with Thompson Bridge Road.

Overall, the new plans “make the best sense in the world,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said. “(The roadway is) flat. Basically, the trucks can handle it and there’s no residential impact, and it would be the least expensive one to do.”

One particular feature of the project is a possible roundabout at Oak Tree Drive — which would otherwise be known as Ga. 60 Connector — and Riverside Drive.

That would be a key focus of a road study, Dunagan said.

“We don’t know if that would work with the truck traffic,” he said. “We’ll do the study and then we’ll know … if the roundabout is the best way or not.”

First things first, though.

City Council is set to vote Tuesday amending a state grant application for $850,000 to reflect the new project.

Officials had been looking to use the grant, if approved, to help with preliminary engineering on a potential downtown bypass between Enota Avenue and South Enota Drive.

From the time Gainesville announced it, the Enota project never wowed area residents.

Dunagan acknowledged as much at a City Council work session Thursday.

He said resident opposition helped shift the plans.

“That played into it,” Dunagan said.

Councilman Zack Thompson said businesses also were opposed to the Enota bypass.

Riverside Drive resident Anne Chenault, one of the bypass’ frequent critics, was delighted to hear the news that the Enota project had been dropped.

“How wonderful,” she said. “... I’ll alert my friends and neighbors as to what’s going on.”

The connector, if it happens, is mainly focused on reducing traffic on Green Street, a four-lane, often-hectic ride between the Gainesville Civic Center and E.E. Butler Parkway/Academy Street.

And relief may be needed sooner than later.

The city is conducting a study of what lies underneath the historic road, in terms of drainage and other layers of asphalt, to help determine what kind of improvements can be made to the road.

The study is expected to be released in May.

“When we do start working on Green Street … what are you going to do for traffic?” Dunagan said, suggesting the connector could be a traffic option.

Chenault said she understands the need for Green Street relief but hopes area officials don’t lose sight of the need for an outer bypass.

“That’s what’s going to help in the long run,” she said. “A farther-out bypass will get people to where they need to be.”

Chenault has said she believes officials need to consider several routes as part of the larger project, such as the planned Sardis Connector, a four-lane road between Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 and Thompson Bridge Road.

She said she also believes Gainesville shouldn’t have to shoulder all the burden of “providing for all the (area’s) through traffic.”

“It’s all being sort of pushed on Gainesville,” Chenault said.

Dunagan agreed that Gainesville eventually is “going to need an outer bypass, but right now, this (connector) will cure some of the (traffic) problems.”

Staff writer Joshua Silavent contributed to this report.

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