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Final public meeting for transportation plan is tonight
General Assembly's bill could allow some projects to be added
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Roads meeting

What: fourth and final public meeting on the area’s 2040 transportation plan

When: 5:30-7 tonight, with a presentation set for 6 p.m.

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

The last public meeting on the area’s 2040 transportation plan is set for tonight, but that doesn’t mean the end of the road on public comment.

In following federal law, the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization has scheduled a comment period set to run today through April 24.

But for those interested in seeing maps in person and talking with officials, the MPO, Hall’s lead transportation planning organization, has set the fourth and final public meeting for 5:30-7 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

A presentation is set for 6 p.m.

MPO officials will release the draft plan at the meeting but also on the organization’s website, said Sam Baker, the MPO’s senior transportation planner.

In November, the MPO’s decision-making policy committee, comprising top elected officials from throughout the area, gave its OK to a list of transportation projects through 2040.

The list shows projects divided by three time frames, 2015-20, 2021-30 and 2031-40.

The planning area, which includes Braselton and parts of West Jackson County, including Interstate 85, is expected to receive about $1.4 billion for road projects through 2040 from local, state and federal sources.

That amount represents $800 million less than what was projected in the current 2040 plan, which was completed in August 2011.

There are some $2.42 billion in projects that have been left off the “financially constrained” plan and otherwise dubbed as “aspirations.”

The MPO has sought public input since beginning the 2015 update, including through online surveys.

Some 50 people attended each of the last three community meetings, Baker said.

The draft plan also will circulate through MPO committees, including the policy committee on May 12.

The federal government needs to approve the document by Aug. 8, Baker said.

One thing officials will be watching is how the transportation funding bill in the Georgia General Assembly will play out.

The Senate narrowly passed the bill on Friday. The bill goes back to the House.

“If the new transportation bill becomes law and provides additional funds, we will amend our long-range plan and transportation improvement program and will fund additional projects and/or move projects from the long range to the short range,” Baker said.

As far as just how much of a boost that could be, “we would have to wait and see,” said Srikanth Yamala, the MPO’s director.