The completion of the four- and six-lane Ga. 347 in South Hall County by this time next year will mark the opening of one of Hall’s few east-west traffic arteries — and maybe its last major one for years to come.
Work is well underway to widen Ga. 347 between Interstate 985 and Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway in Braselton, with heavy equipment and crews out in force up and down the busy stretch.
When done, it will mesh with the newly widened Ga. 347 between I-985 and McEver Road in West Hall, a project that was finished last year.
The Georgia Department of Transportation also has plans to improve a third leg of Ga. 347, running from McEver Road to Lanier Islands resort.
It may be some time before Hall sees another corridor running at such a distance and across such a span of the county.
Most of Hall’s main arteries run south-north, such as I-985, McEver Road and Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road. U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway and Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road run virtually parallel to each other between Gainesville and Clermont.
Ga. 369 runs through east-west from Forsyth County through Gainesville. But while there’s been much talk about widening the road over the years, the DOT has basically shelved the project.
Matthew Fowler, a DOT assistant planning administrator, said the project has lost standing because of Ga. 369’s route through Forsyth County, which falls in another road-planning organization’s jurisdiction, the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Hall is in the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“When we widen a road, we have to have logical termini,” Fowler said. “We just can’t stop it arbitrarily. The logical (stopping point) 40 years ago might have been the bridge at the lake, but nowadays, it has to go farther than that — at least to Ga. 400.”
And the Ga. 369 project was removed from ARC’s plan a few years ago, he said.
The planned Sardis Connector would join Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway to Ga. 60, but funding appears to be years off.
Officials have said Hall is pursuing widening Spout Springs Road first because it has an arrangement to get reimbursed for money it spends on right-of-way acquisition.
Not so with Sardis.
Even further into the future is the “Northern Connector,” which is listed among “preliminary aspirations” on the 2040 roads plan update now under development by the Gainesville-Hall MPO.
The project, which has a $227 million price tag, stirred up much opposition when it was publicized about five years ago. It led to the formation of a grass-roots group, Lake Lanier Community Preservation Association.
The proposal calls for a road connecting Ga. 60 to Ga. 365, crossing Lake Lanier and, as the association has fretted about, disrupting neighborhoods.
As the road proposal faded, so did the group, said Debbie Lawson Davis, who served as the group’s spokeswoman.
“We’re still a legal entity, and we did do a little e-mail blast ... the last time they did public input meetings (on the 2040 plan), and those were pretty uneventful meetings,” Davis said last week.
Otherwise, “we’re inactive because (the issue) has died down so much, and so much of it is budget-related,” she said. “It’s ridiculous to think it could even think it could be considered in a budgetary decline like this.”