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Eyes on the Road: Final hearing set on plan for Hall area roads
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Area residents have one more opportunity to comment on recommendations in the Hall County area’s 2040 transportation plan.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall’s lead transportation planning organization, has set the fourth and final public meeting on the plan’s update for 5:30-7 p.m. March 23 at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

A presentation is set for 6 p.m.

The federally required long-range plan must be renewed for another four years by August.

In November, the MPO’s decision-making policy committee, comprising top elected officials from throughout the area, gave its OK to a list of transportation projects through 2040.

The list shows projects divided by three time frames, 2015-20, 2021-30 and 2031-40.

The planning area, which includes Braselton and parts of west Jackson County, including Interstate 85, is expected to receive about $1.4 billion for road projects through 2040 from local, state and federal sources.

That amount represents $800 million less than what was projected in the current 2040 plan, which was completed in August 2011.

There are some $2.42 billion in projects that have been left off the “financially constrained” plan and otherwise dubbed as “aspirations.”

DOT commissioner on tap to speak at roads forum

It’s nearly booked, but still worth noting that the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual transportation forum is taking place Thursday at the University of North Georgia-Gainesville.

DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry, a Hall County resident and former chief engineer at the Gainesville-based District 1 office, is set to speak at the meeting.

These days, he manages a $2 billion department with more than 4,100 employees.

Also on the agenda are District Engineer Brent Cook and Srikanth Yamala, MPO director.

Typically, officials talk about short-term and long-term projects, as well as state and federal political issues concerning transportation, at the event.

Last week, the Georgia House passed a multimillion dollar transportation funding bill after several hours of debating proposed revisions.

The bill converts the state’s mix of taxes on gasoline to a 29.2 cents-per-gallon excise tax dedicated to transportation needs. It also eliminates Georgia’s tax credit for electric vehicle purchases and an exemption on jet fuel purchases.

Federal funding of transportation also is at a crossroads, with the current authorization act expiring May 31.

State officials also have expressed worry over federal money, which makes up the bulk of funding for road projects, and have said they are easing off awarding contracts.

McMurry has said he expects to carefully watch Congress on the matter.

Reauthorization “would give some certainty that we can plan and get projects out, buy property for projects and take care of the maintenance that’s needed all the time,” he said.

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

jgill@gainesvilletimes.com

facebook.com/jeffagill

@JeffGTimes

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