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Eyes on the Road: MPO seeks public input on new plan
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Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency is seeking public input on the organization’s proposed Public Participation Plan.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization started a public comment period for the document on Sunday and will keep it open until Aug. 5.

The plan requires the 45-day period before official adoption.

It will be available on the agency’s website,, for review and comment, according to a legal advertisement posted Sunday. On the site, click on “Planning Documents,” then “Participation Plan Document.”

A hard copy of the document is available at the Hall County Planning Department in the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

The MPO’s decision-making Policy Committee is set to adopt the plan at its regular meeting on Aug. 12.

According to the MPO website, federal law has required that the MPO have a public participation plan.

Changes to the plan particularly reflect the expansion of the region covered by the MPO.

The area now includes West Jackson County, including Braselton and a stretch of Interstate 85.

City to use DOT grant to plant trees, shrubs

The Georgia Department of Transportation has awarded $48,836 to Gainesville for a beautification project at Interstate 985’s Exit 20.

The work particularly will focus on an area along the northbound exit ramp, near ProCare Rx, a pharmacy benefit management company off Ga. 60/Queen City Parkway, said Jessica Tullar, the city’s special projects manager.

Total project costs are $82,474, with the city picking up the rest of the tab, or $33,638.

Some 100 trees — a mix of shade trees, evergreens and ornamentals — and shrubs will be planted at the site, Tullar said.

She added the city “will be trying to meet (the) planting window for this fall or next spring.”

The grant is part of nearly $1.35 million issued by the state to 43 local governments around the state.

“Funds from the grants are used to reimburse local government when purchasing and installing plant material for landscape projects on state routes,” a DOT news release states.

“This is a wonderful chance to partner with our local governments as they improve the landscape throughout Georgia,” DOT Commissioner Keith Golden said.

More than 80 applications were submitted, and the DOT “hopes to award additional grants to other worthy projects soon,” according to the release.

The grant program uses revenue collected from permit fees for vegetation removal in front of outdoor advertising signs.

Other area governments getting money are Dawson County, which received $46,690, and the city of Demorest, $26,030.

Sinkhole repairs are set for end of August completion

Work is moving along to fix a sinkhole off Ga. 51 in Hart County.

Utility relocations are almost finished at the site, about 6 miles north of Hartwell. Lake Hartwell is on both sides of the roadway.

Utility companies are moving their infrastructure before the rest of the repair work can proceed on the sinkhole. E.R. Snell Contractor of Snellville is scheduled to finish excavation of the sinkhole area and continue the repairs in mid-July.

“Work is going well, but it is complicated,” DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith said.

The $1 million project is set for an Aug. 24 completion, involving the laying of a custom-fabricated pipe, 180 feet long and 13 feet in diameter.

The work also involves new pavement and striping.

The sinkhole opened up on May 6. After local law enforcement notified DOT, engineers arrived to find a cavity 20 feet deep and taking up almost the entire northbound lane.

The earth supporting the roadway was undermined from a pipe failure some 40 feet under Ga. 51.

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