What: Gainesville is holding an open-house forum on its transportation master plan.
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St.
A Norcross firm developing a transportation master plan for Gainesville is suggesting ways to address Green Street’s traffic woes without a roundabout, widening the road or banning left turns.
Instead, Pond & Co. is recommending a configuration of “unbalanced lanes” — one lane for southbound traffic, two lanes for northbound traffic and a center turn lane.
“That’s taking those left-turning vehicles out of the through lanes,” said Daniel Studdard, a Pond planner, at a transportation focus group meeting Thursday night at the Fair Street Neighborhood Center. “It’s going to help your evening peak hour, which is going northbound primarily.
“The downside is if you’re going southbound, you will have more congestion. But we know that going northbound is a bigger problem right now than going southbound, because in the evening, that’s your peak direction.”
Green Street has been a key focus of an ongoing transportation study, which has been punctuated by focus group meetings. A final meeting is set July 25 and communitywide meetings are set for next Thursday and Aug. 1, with completion of the plan in August.
Travel along Green Street has long been an issue for Gainesville, as the road serves as a major route through town en route to North Hall.
It starts at Spring Street downtown near the Hall County Courthouse, then doglegs north, past a junction at E.E. Butler Parkway and to a fork that splits between Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road and Ga. 11/Riverside Drive.
Between E.E. Butler and the fork, Green is a four-lane road, hugged tightly on either side by stately mansions and Victorian homes that have been converted into lawyer’s and doctor’s offices, as well as other businesses.
The street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan has asked the Georgia Department of Transportation to study the possibility of banning left turns on Green Street.
“I think it would move traffic tremendously,” he has said.
Currently, left turns onto Green from Holly Drive, North Avenue, Candler Street, Forrest Avenue and the U.S. post office are prohibited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.
Studdard doesn’t favor the left-turn ban. “Businesses are not going to like that,” he said.
“Also, it’s tough to enforce. You can put up signs, but short of having police officers there at all times, some people will just literally ignore (the ban) and (turn left), and then you have the same problems that you’ve got now.”
Pond also has considered a roundabout on Green Street, at both ends of the historic district.
Conducting a “very detailed traffic analysis,” the firm found that “it would fail in multiple directions ... and that’s using the existing volumes (of traffic),” Studdard said. “It would not work now and, in time, it would just get worse and worse.”
Pond also is suggesting adding a right-turn lane on Green Street southbound at E.E. Butler and adding northbound right-turn and southbound left-turn lanes into the post office.
“It isn’t taking out buildings. It affects essentially sidewalks, grass, bushes — it’s not the large oak trees that give Green Street its character,” Studdard said of the construction.
Another option calls for building a boulevard along Green, “where we’re looking at putting in a median that would open up at signalized intersections,” he said.
“We would want some streetscape elements of trees and pedestrian lighting,” Studdard said.
“Keeping in mind that this is a DOT road, what you’re seeing here is not what DOT is going to want to build. Let’s be blunt.”
Studdard said work along Green Street needs to focus on maintaining its quaint character.
“You don’t want to turn this into Athens Highway at (Interstate) 985,” he said. “You want this to be a nice roadway when it’s done.”