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Ga. 211 widening going nowhere
Funding issues stall Braselton area projects
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A couple of Braselton area road projects — including the widening of Ga. 211, which serves as a major South Hall County artery — appear stuck in neutral, barring some infusion of cash from some source.

“We’re going to continue looking to see if we can find funding to do both projects,” Braselton Town Manager Jennifer Dees said. “We’re talking about projects that are in the $10 million range. That’s just not something (the town) is ever going to be able to fund. It’s not in the realm of possibility for us.”

The widening of Ga. 211 from the Gwinnett-Hall County line to Interstate 85 and construction of Braselton Parkway Extension, a road connecting Ga. 211 to Jesse Cronic Road, were both voted down July 31 in the transportation sales tax referendum.

Prior to that, Halvorsen Holdings, a Florida-based developer with 200 acres of land behind the Publix-anchored shopping center off Ga. 211, paid for engineering work “to get our projects to the point where he had cost estimates, drawings and things like that,” Dees said.

“When there was still hope that the two road projects we had on there might make it, (Halvorsen) had a whole lot of interest (from potential tenants) with the expanded roads,” she said.

Hall County had on its project list for the sales tax — also rejected by voters — a plan to widen Ga. 211 from Ga. 53/Winder Highway to the Gwinnett County line.

“We were really on the sidelines hoping for the same result that a lot of folks were with that referendum,” said Tom Vincent, president of Halvorsen, which also developed the Publix shopping center on Spout Springs Road in Braselton and Stonebridge Village shopping center in Flowery Branch.

The Ga. 211 widening “is still a viable project ... but we don’t have a timetable for constructing that until our development project would go forward,” he said.

Vincent holds hope that day will come, once the economy starts to rebound. The Braselton area in Hall County, particularly around Friendship and Spout Springs roads, has seen steady development, even through the recession.

“There’s a lot of projected growth out that way,” Vincent said. “As things start to evolve or pick up over the next year or whatever, hopefully that will help stimulate a lot of the developments that were planned or just getting under way.”

The widening of Ga. 347/Friendship Road in South Hall is expected by many to provide an economic boost.

The Georgia Department of Transportation project calls for widening Ga. 347 from Interstate 985 to Ga. 211. It features six-lane segments, including one between Ga. 211 and Spout Springs Road that will front Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton.

Work is under way on the new 100-bed hospital, which is expected to open in April 2015. The hospital sits on the Northeast Georgia Health System’s new River Place campus, which has one medical office building in place and another one planned.