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Eyes on the Road: Road sales tax to be chamber forums' topic
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There will be some heightened discussion about the proposed 1 percent transportation sales tax in the coming weeks.

It figures to be a hot topic at this week's annual transportation forum sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. The event is set for 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at Gainesville State College's Continuing Education Building.

Todd Long, the Georgia Department of Transportation's planning director, is the guest speaker.

Long, former district engineer at the DOT's Gainesville office, has worked with regional commissions statewide in developing project lists for the 10-year tax, which goes on the ballot July 31.

He talked at last year's forum, saying that Georgia lacked an acceptable backup plan if the sales tax vote didn't pass. Slipping gas-tax revenues, hampered by more fuel-efficient vehicles on the roads, would continue to put a drag on highway projects, he said.

The chamber's board of directors voted in October to support the sales tax.

Proponents have said the tax would pay for road projects that are needed to ease congestion, improve safety and stir economic development. Opponents have said increasing the sales tax — it would rise to 8 percent from 7 in Hall County — would further strain families already hurt by a down economy.

The chamber forum is open to the public, but reservations are required and the admission is $15 for chamber members and $20 for guests. The fee includes lunch. Those interested in attending can contact Jean McCullough at 770-532-6206.

Srikanth Yamala, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, is set to address the chamber's South Hall Business Coalition on the transportation vote.

The coalition is set to meet 8-9 a.m. March 27 at the Hall County Library System's Spout Springs branch off Spout Springs Road and Lake Sterling Boulevard in Flowery Branch.

Again, reservations are required, but the admission is a little cheaper — $5 for chamber members and $15 for nonmembers. The fee includes breakfast. Those interested in attending can contact Michelle Wiley at 770-532-6206.

At no charge, the public can hear about "public outreach efforts" concerning the sales tax vote at the Gainesville-Hall MPO's Policy Committee meeting, set for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting room on the second floor of the Hall County Courthouse Annex, 116 Spring St.

The MPO website, www.ghmpo.org, features an agenda of the meeting and a link to a document that gives "key points" and "project highlights" concerning the tax's impact in Hall County.

 

Cable barrier project is set for Ga. 400

The DOT has rescheduled the installation of cable barrier along Ga. 400 from the Forsyth/Dawson county line to Chesterra Drive in Lumpkin County.

Daytime work will begin Thursday in the median and continue Friday. Overnight work is set to begin March 19 and continue weeknights as weather permits. Limited lane closures are planned for overnights only. Most work will not affect drivers.

"The barrels you see out on (Ga.) 400 now are there as crews prepare to begin installing cable barrier in the median," said DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith in a news release. "Crews will start by pouring the concrete foundation for the cable."

Cable barrier can prevent accidents in which vehicles traveling in one direction cross the median and strike vehicles traveling in the opposite direction. Cable barrier also is less expensive to install and maintain than traditional guardrail.

Massana Construction will erect the 5.1 miles of barrier on Ga. 400 at a contract price of $665,452. It's expected to be completed April 30.

 

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

 

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