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Eyes on the Road: Freeze-thaw cycles take toll on area roads
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So far, this winter is worse than last, in terms of potholes, for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Last winter, we didn’t work in Hall at all,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman, last week. “We’ve had colder temperatures and several freeze-thaw cycles.”

Area roads “aren’t freezing once and staying frozen for a long time,” she said.

“They freeze, then, in a couple of days, the temps warm to the 50 or 60-plus (degree range), and the roads expand. That expansion and contraction over and over creates the cracking that leads to potholes or takes the existing cracking and creates a pothole.”

Compounding troubles are the DOT’s budget constraints over the past five years.

“We used to resurface our roadways much more frequently than we do now,” Pope said. “So, by the time we do a resurfacing project on a roadway it isn’t a simple (job). It is a deeper removal of asphalt and supporting structure.”

Hall County’s roads maintenance department responded to 91 pothole filling requests between Dec. 1 and Feb. 1, compared to 119 during the same time period last year.

“Although it appears the workload was less this year so far, there are variables in the requests taken,” said Jimmy Hightower, Hall’s maintenance supervisor.

“For example, one ticket request could represent one pothole repair on that road, and another ticket could represent multiple potholes on that road,” he said. “The repair work has been normal, for the most part.”

MPO committee set to talk about roads study

Gainesville’s traffic study and a look at “urbanized areas” in Gainesville-Hall will be the focus of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s technical coordinating committee meeting this week.

The committee, comprising state and local engineers and planners, is set to meet at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala and Richard Fangmann of Norcross-based Pond & Co. will address the city’s long-range study, and new senior transportation planner Nicole Spivey will talk about the 2010 U.S. Census-adjusted urbanized area.

Forsyth County, Cumming get local roads money

Forsyth County has received nearly $1.42 million from the state’s Local Maintenance and Improvements Grant program.

R.J. “Pete” Amos, chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, said the money will be used for road resurfacings.

The city of Cumming, Forsyth’s county seat, will receive $47,763, which will go toward patching potholes, Mayor Ford Gravitt said.

A portion of the state’s gas tax receipts pays for the LMIG program. The state has about $110 million set aside for the program this year.

City and county governments applying for money must be willing to match state funds by 30 percent.

Bethlehem intersection gets new traffic light

A new traffic light at Ga. 11 and Star Street in the Barrow County city of Bethlehem is flashing in test mode.

Weather permitting, the signal will be operational Thursday.

The DOT project also included widening the center turn lane and adding right and left turn lanes onto Star Street.

“Once the signal is operational, I think (motorists) will see a vast improvement in the traffic flow in downtown,” said DOT District Traffic Engineer Scott Zehngraff.

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