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Flowery Branch looks to improve narrow road
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Flowery Branch is exploring options for traffic on narrow Jones Drive. - photo by Tom Reed

FLOWERY BRANCH — Narrow Jones Drive is a throwback to when this South Hall town had no Atlanta Falcons, big-box stores or promise of growth migrating north from Atlanta.

The two-lane, 12-foot-wide street might have worked when there were just a few residents living around it. But with the vast Tide Water Cove subdivision feeding traffic onto it, modern-day logjams are a common sight.

"It’s a very difficult stretch of road," said Dee Lee of Oakwood-based Southern Property Management, which manages Tide Water’s homeowners association.

"The residents who have talked to us about it have indicated they are always concerned about driving up and down Jones (Drive) because they have to pull off to let somebody by."

James Riker, Flowery Branch’s planning director, has been studying the issue since he brought the matter before City Council in October.

He said Thursday that he plans to speak further about it at a council meeting this month.

Generally, though, city officials are thinking the problem might be eased, at least partially, by "signage, striping and posting for a one-way route ... for a part of Jones," Riker said. "We’re trying to get some pricing for that right now."

Jones is a short road that runs between Gainesville Street, which also is 12 feet wide but is one way, and the two-lane Mitchell Street. Lorimar Court, which features several duplexes, juts off Jones Drive.

At the October meeting, Riker said the city had gotten some complaints from people living in the Jones Drive area.

City officials "have been out there when buses have been on that road, and believe me, it is no larger than a driveway in some areas," Riker said.

Riker said the city tried speed bumps to at least slow drivers on the road.

"Unfortunately, people have decided to drive around (the bumps)," he said.

Riker said the "Cadillac" of options to solve the problem would involve road reconstruction, which would mean buying property.

Also, some of the "grades there are very steep and to accomplish (reconstruction) would be very difficult to do," he said. "It would require some very significant engineering."

Riker told council that regardless of the city’s actions, "if we’re going to make a traffic pattern change, we probably want to make sure that the residents in that area are aware of it."

City Manager Bill Andrew said the problem facing the city now is "we have some very angry residents who have come to us and said why don’t you put up one-way signs — it’s a two-hour job that costs $300 and just be done with it."

"None of this is that simple," he added. "... There’s a tree that has literally grown into the road. There’s nowhere to go if you’re trying to make that curve and someone’s coming toward you. You’re going into the tree."

Andrew said that the road "is just an accident waiting to happen."

The problem isn’t just confined to Jones Drive, either.

Andrew said that Johnny Thomas, the city’s public works director, estimates that 40 percent of the roads in that area are "not up to par."

"(Riker) and I have discussed having someone ... do a comprehensive survey of our roads system here, with traffic counts, so that over time, we can begin designing a public works capital improvement plan," Andrew said.

For now, though, Lee is hoping for a positive outcome with Jones Drive.

"You have quite a few residents back there who access (the road) repeatedly," he said.

"It’s like being on an old country road somewhere, but we’re the city of Flowery Branch. We’re supposed to be grown up."

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