Yellow Creek Road, between Murrayville and the Lumpkin County line, is now the official northern end point of the planned Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road widening in North Hall.
The Georgia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration had been working on a “logical” end point for the project for some time, with the agencies recently settling on Yellow Creek Road, DOT district spokeswoman Teri Pope said last week.
“That is good news,” she said. “... We can start in earnest developing plans for (the widening).”
One of federal agency’s main concerns is that road projects don’t necessarily begin or end “at the county line or city limits,” Pope said.
There needs to be a “reason for where (the road) narrows back down,” such as a “significant traffic drop-off or change in traffic patterns,” she said.
The southern tip of the project is at Ga. 136/Price Road, where Ga. 60 goes from a four lane road to two and three lanes heading north.
Ga. 60 cuts through Murrayville, an unincorporated community with a school, library and scattered homes and businesses. It eventually enters Lumpkin County and winds through downtown Dahlonega before heading farther into North Georgia.
In 2007, the DOT held a public meeting on widening Ga. 60 to four lanes between Ga. 136 and Ga. 400 in Lumpkin, the original 11-mile concept.
“It was a really long project, which means it would really cost a lot,” Pope said.
The DOT later amended its plans, identifying Yellow Creek Road as a potential northern end point, “but we had to work with (the FHWA) to get that to be the end point.”
The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency, has the Ga. 60 project in its short-term and long-term documents, identifying Yellow Creek Road as the end point.
Any change would have required an amendment to those plans, said Srikanth Yamala, MPO director and Hall’s planning director.
A public information open house on the 6.72-mile project is set for summer 2014, Pope said.
Right-of-way acquisition, scheduled for fiscal 2013-14, would involve 134 parcels with an estimated cost of nearly $18 million, she said.
Construction is planned in fiscal 2016-17, with costs reaching a possible $23.3 million.
Dr. Jane White isn’t happy with the project’s end point. Her business, Murrayville Veterinary Clinic, 5741 Thompson Bridge Road, sits between Yellow Creek Road and Ga. 60, with an entrance off both.
She said she is concerned the project might entail moving Yellow Creek access to just north of her clinic, possibly affecting the septic drain field on her property.
“I don’t want to be on an island,” White said.
She also questions whether the project is needed.
“I understand progress, and I understand that sometimes roads have to be widened,” White said. “I just don’t understand why this road has to be widened at this time. You look at the traffic and it’s free-flowing.”
Pope said she didn’t have “much other detail” on the project design, including “what will happen at Yellow Creek Road yet.”