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Eyes on the Road: Citizens group wants parking additions to new trail
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A transportation citizens advisory group is recommending that parking be added to each end of a segment of the Central Hall Multi-Use Trail now under construction.

“This (project) has been evolving since 2007 and … the minutes of meetings show all different levels of government have overlooked this,” said Wayne Stradley, a Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization committee member who brought up the matter.

Work is well underway on the trail, which will run along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway between Palmour Drive in Gainesville and Lanier Technical College and the University of North Georgia-Gainesville in Oakwood.

Much of the work is taking place in the historic Chicopee Mill Village off Ga. 13.

The committee’s recommendation, which also calls for officials to talk with UNG concerning south connections in the trail system, will go to the MPO’s decision-making policy committee.

The policy committee, which is made up of the area’s top elected officials, is set to meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road.

Trail plans call for a 10-foot asphalt path, benches, trash cans and, most notably, a tunnel under Ga. 13 near the Georgia Department of Labor.

The $2.3 million project is being funded by federal dollars and the county’s special purpose local option sales tax. It is set for a September completion.

“With the design we have now, we didn’t look at trailheads, but we knew that trailheads would be needed as more sections were added to the trail,” said Jody Woodall, Hall County’s road projects manager.

“We’re probably a little too far along in the current contract (to add parking),” Woodall said. “Also, identifying available funding would be the other challenge.”

Officials have looked at possibly using part of a nearby park-and-ride lot, which is off Interstate 985 at Exit 17, as a trailhead.

“That would be a good location and you wouldn’t (need to) carve out too many (parking) spots,” Woodall said.

Some sidewalks would be needed to link the lot to the trail, with the distance between the two about 200-300 yards, but otherwise, the work could be done at a “relatively low cost,” he said.

The new trail section is part of a larger pedestrian and bicycle network for area residents, one that has been eyed as potentially running deeper into South Hall.

Gainesville’s Midtown Greenway, which has a parking lot off Grove Street, already is in place from just south of Jesse Jewell Parkway to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Grove and Pine streets.

Eventually, it could extend east to E.E. Butler Parkway and south to Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport and the Central Hall trail.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: