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Eyes on the Road: Document outlines Hall County's roads plans to 2040
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Now that the transportation sales tax has gone away, it’s a good time to revisit a document that plots Hall County’s road future — and for a period much longer than 10 years, as was T-SPLOST’s time frame.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s policy committee voted in August 2011 to approve the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

The document cites some $2.1 billion in transportation projects, with inflation-adjusted funding coming from projected federal, state and local sources.

It features mostly road-widening projects, but work also focuses on transit, intersection, bicycle, pedestrian and bridge improvements.

The document also places the projects in three time periods: 2012-2017, 2018-2030 and 2031-2040.

T-SPLOST would have done the same thing, committing projects to three time frames.

And many of the same projects that were on the T-SPLOST project list are in the 2040 plan, such as the Spout Springs widening. Spout Springs is slated for construction in 2018-30.

Funding for the 2040 plan isn’t etched in stone. It contains estimates based on past funding, plus it relies on the voter passage of county special purpose local option sales taxes.

Srikanth Yamala, the MPO’s director and Hall County’s planning director, has said Hall’s projected road needs through 2040 are far greater than the $2.1 billion can cover.

He estimates a funding shortfall of $290 million over the next 10 years or $1.3 billion over the next 30 years.

The 2040 plan, which took nearly two years to complete, is set for a retweaking later this decade, as the 2040 plan must be updated periodically to comply with federal air quality standards.

Hall’s roads future likely will be a topic of discussion when the MPO’s technical coordinating and policy committees meet next week.

The technical coordinating meeting typically features area planners and engineers, often discussing the fine details of upcoming and current projects. The policy committee is a bigger group, including elected officials along with planners and engineers.

The technical coordinating committee is set to meet at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 13 at the Development Services Building, 440 Prior St., Gainesville. The policy group is set to meet at 10 a.m. Aug. 14 at the Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville.

Yamala said last week he doesn’t expect much change in the MPO, even as he takes on a wider role in Hall County government.

Until last month, when he was named county planner, he had served in the federally funded position of senior transportation planner for the MPO.

Before Yamala, Hall County’s planning director was Randy Knighton, who has spent the past year as Hall County administrator. So, for the past year, Yamala has been the central figure at the MPO.

Yamala said he expects a decision will be made in the next couple of months whether to fill the senior planner job.

New traffic light set for Cumming intersection

If weather permits and testing goes well, a new traffic signal will be operational Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Ga. 141/Peachtree Parkway and Stoney Point Road in Cumming.

The new signal is flashing in test mode now, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Once the signal is operational, please use extra caution until you get familiar with the new signal location,” said Georgia DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith. “Remember to watch out for other drivers until they get used to the new signal, too.”

DOT awards contracts for projects in Forsyth County

On Friday, the DOT awarded 17 contracts for more than $55 million in new transportation improvements across the state, including $9 million for projects in Forsyth County.

Planned are improvements to the intersection of Bethelview Road and Ga. 9 and a related widening of Bethelview from Ga. 9 to Castleberry Road.

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

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