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Final roads plan could be released next week
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A final version of Gainesville’s transportation master plan could be released by the end of next week, the city’s consultant on the effort said Thursday.

Officials with the city and Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency, the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, have been reviewing a draft of the plan, which features a slate of recommendations for projects in three time frames through 2040.

Public input, which has consisted of community and focus group meetings, is all but done before the final report’s release.

“I know there are a lot of issues that are still percolating about these projects, and this (report) won’t be the end of this (process),” said Richard Fangmann, director of transportation planning for Norcross-based consultant Pond & Co., addressing MPO’s citizens advisory committee.

The draft, which depicts $235.2 million in projects, will next be considered for inclusion in MPO’s planned study of area transportation projects.

MPO’s 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan is slated for an update, a process set to begin in January and to be completed by August 2015, said Sam I. Baker, MPO’s senior transportation planner.

“This (plan) will get revisited as (MPO) looks at how (projects) may or not get folded into (the update),” Fangmann said.

In a presentation to the committee featuring maps and data, he summarized the draft recommendations, which are aimed at addressing congestion problems as the area’s population is expected to nearly triple over the next few decades.

The master plan largely focuses on roadways that already have heavy traffic, such as Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway, Ga. 369/Jesse Jewell Parkway and Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road, but does feature several new road projects.

“Some (projects) are more controversial, some are very easy and (are ones that) almost everyone agrees on,” Fangmann said.

One of the plan’s hot spots is Green Street, particularly the stretch along the historic district between the U.S. post office and Gainesville Civic Center.

Short-term fixes include a ban on left turns and “unbalanced lanes,” or reconfiguring the street so that it has one lane for southbound traffic, two lanes for northbound traffic and a center turn lane.

That issue drew some disagreement among committee members.

Renee Gerrell said she opposes the left-turn ban.

“That would make my life miserable, because I live behind First Baptist (Church on Green),” she said.

Brent Hoffman said he believed “banning left turns affects the fewest number of people and allows for the more complete use of the road getting through Gainesville.”

Another road project garnering attention is the “Northwest Quadrant Connector,” a road that would connect Dawsonville Highway to Thompson Bridge road via a bridge on Lake Lanier.

“Obviously, this would take a while and is not an inexpensive solution,” Fangmann said, “but when you look at the volumes that you’re going to have through 2040 — if and when that growth occurs — we’re going to need to have more capacity.”

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