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Eyes on the Road: Hall gears up for update to roads plan
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Hall County has set a Jan. 7 deadline to receive proposals from consultants applying to help complete an update of a long-range transportation plan.

The county plans to hire a firm in January for the effort, at a cost of $207,000, approved in November by the Board of Commissioners.

Most of the funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration. The Georgia Department of Transportation and Hall County are chipping in $6,000 each.

The consultant would help the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the area’s main transportation planning group, complete the plan update by August 2015. If the update is not adopted by then, Hall County would not be able to receive federal transportation dollars.

Work includes conducting public involvement activities, developing socioeconomic data projections and developing a project list.

The MPO’s 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan was completed in August 2011 by Wilbur Smith Associates.

I-85 environmental report now expected next fall

The release of a draft document giving the environmental impact of a high-occupancy-toll lane extension in Gwinnett County has been delayed.

The DOT had expected its completion in December, but now, draft environmental assessment approval is set for fall of 2014.

The delay is “due to a necessary revision to the scope of the project based on traffic data,” DOT district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

“The requirement to get additional traffic data mandates traffic is counted,” she said. “Just getting that takes several months to do on a corridor this long. Then, data must be reviewed and compiled, then studied and integrated into the draft (report).”

The 10-mile project will run along Interstate 85 between Old Peachtree Road and Hamilton Mill Road. It also involves construction of a bridge at Interstate 985, which cuts through North Gwinnett, then Hall County en route to Gainesville.

The HOT lanes now run between Old Peachtree and Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County.

They enable drivers who have a “Peach Pass” sticker, or transponder, fixed to their windshield to travel without the congestion of other lanes but for a toll based on the level of traffic snarl.

Fees are waived for those driving motorcycles, alternative-fuel cars with proper license plates and vehicles carrying three or more people.

Unlike the existing HOT lanes on I-85, the Express Lanes from Old Peachtree to Hamilton Mill Road will involve building new lanes, rather than converting existing high-occupancy-vehicle, or HOV, lanes.

DOT holding meetings on Ga. 20 improvements

The DOT is holding two public meetings this week, including one in Cumming, on potential improvements to Ga. 20 between Ga. 400 in Forsyth County and Interstate 575 in Canton.

The department is seeking to identify improvements that will “improve mobility, reduce congestion and address safety,” according to a newsrelease. Ga. 20 “has exceeded its capacity and multiple improvements are needed in Cherokee and Forsyth counties.”

Residents provided suggestions in public meetings in May. At this week’s meeting, they can comment on initial alternatives.

The meetings are set for 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Otwell Middle School Cafeteria, 605 Tribble Gap Road, Cumming, and 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at Calvary Baptist Church in Ball Ground.

No formal presentations will be given at the meetings.

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