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Eyes on the Road: Officials mull traffic signal for Ga. 53 intersection
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As Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway in west Gainesville continues to sprawl, traffic continues to crawl.

Development and government officials are considering the traffic situation particularly around Beechwood Boulevard, where cars can box up as motorists approach McEver Road or Ahaluna Drive — two signalized intersections on that stretch.

One question is whether to put up a traffic light at the entrance to where three busy restaurants are now clustered and what could be — on the other side of the road — an eventual 245,000-square-foot shopping center.

A median break there now allows cars to enter or leave the area occupied by the eateries.

America’s Home Place, which is developing both sides of the road, has completed a city-requested traffic study, which “indicates installing a traffic signal should be considered,” said Dee Taylor, Gainesville’s traffic engineer.

“Considering the size of the potential development, it is always a good idea to study all alternatives,” Taylor said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has received the traffic study and “started the review process,” said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the DOT’s District 1, which includes Hall.

If a traffic light meets federal criteria, then the city, state and developer would “meet to decide on who provides what” to put one up, Taylor said.

Keith Brown, America’s Home Place assistant to the president, said he believes “at some point we’ll have to have it. I don’t think it’s necessary from day one.”

At this point, the shopping center, proposed for more than 25 acres off Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway in Gainesville, is no certainty.

America’s Home Place would have to clear a rezoning hurdle, which it plans to attempt Feb. 12 during a meeting of the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board.

A public hearing will be part of the meeting, which is slated to begin at 5 p.m. in the Gainesville Justice Center, 701 Queen City Parkway.

And there is opposition from Lakeshore Heights, a decades-old, lakefront subdivision that runs between Ahaluna Road and John Morrow Parkway near Lakeshore Mall.

The Planning and Appeals Board can only recommend approval or denial of the rezoning request. The final decision would be left up to the Gainesville City Council, which is set to consider the matter at its March 5 meeting.

DOT crews get busy with winter weather clearing

The DOT dealt with its first roads-clearing endeavors this winter when a storm blew through the Georgia Mountains over the weekend.

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures threatened travel throughout the region.

A couple of trouble spots included Ga. 2/U.S. 76 west of Clayton and Ga. 197 outside of Clarkesville near Lake Burton.

Crews worked until about 2 p.m. Sunday making roads safe to travel.

Some 55 DOT employees worked in the effort, using 25 dump trucks, “at the height of the battle” in Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties, Pope said.

“Isolated icing is happening on bridges, in shady areas and in higher elevations,” said Billy Cantrell, Georgia DOT maintenance engineer for Northeast Georgia, at one point.

Maintenance work set in area counties this week

DOT crews are planning maintenance work throughout the region this week.

The work includes cleaning and repairing ditches and trimming brush along Ga. 53 and Ga. 323 and mowing slopes along Ga. 52 in Hall County; brush and tree trimming on Ga. 53 and Ga. 136 in Dawson County; patching damaged asphalt on Ga. 20 along a 2«-mile stretch in Forsyth County, work requiring a single lane closure; mowing slopes of Ga. 52 east of Dahlonega in Lumpkin County; and inspecting drainage pipes along and under Ga. 348 in White County.

The work is set to take place 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Friday.

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