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Gainesville wants peek under Green Street to fix traffic, drainage problems
City may hire consultant to study asphalt depths, suggest improvements
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Gainesville is looking at bringing in an outside engineering firm to look at Green Street’s asphalt depths and drainage issues before working on what can be done to improve traffic flow. The busy road has been paved and repaved over the years and flooding has long been a problem.

Everybody knows what’s on top of Green Street in Gainesville: cars and more cars.

The city wants to find out what’s underneath.

Officials are considering hiring a consultant to study the road’s asphalt depths and drainage issues before tackling the long-nagging issue of what can be done to improve traffic flow.

The road has been paved and repaved over the years, and flooding has long been a problem.

City traffic engineer Rhonda Brady said Wednesday she expects the firm would work to get information on existing utilities, stormwater, pavement and sidewalks, and it also would evaluate options for improvements.

“Right now, with the storm drainage and utilities, the options are sort of limited,” she said, speaking to a group of area engineers, planners and other government officials that meets regularly to discuss transportation matters.

After about a year of talks, Gainesville and the DOT have decided the city would “take the lead” on the effort, Brady said.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to be within the next month or two that something’s decided as far as are we going to have to bid out (the work) or go with someone the city already (uses),” Brady said.

The stretch under consideration runs between the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce on E.E. Butler Parkway to the south and Gainesville Civic Center at 830 Green St. to the north.

Green Street serves as a main road for Gainesville motorists traveling from downtown to places north of town. At the civic center, the road splits with traffic funneled onto either Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road or U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway.

Compounding traffic problems is the number of traffic-generating destinations on the road, particularly a post office, and the road’s sensitive status as a historic district.

Over the years, officials have talked about various traffic options on Green, including a ban on left turns and roundabouts at E.E. Butler and the Ga. 60/U.S. 129 split.

Pond & Co., a Norcross firm that served as consultant on Gainesville’s long-range transportation plan, suggested in 2013 “unbalanced lanes” along the four-lane street, or one lane for southbound traffic, two lanes for northbound traffic and a center turn lane.

Frank Norton Jr., whose real estate firm, The Norton Agency, has been a longtime fixture on Green, said he likes the idea of an engineering study.

Among other things, he supports replacing utilities and “changing and upgrading all the stormwater sewer, which dates to the turn of last century,” he said.

“The long-term solution, perhaps, is to rebuild the sidewalks along Green Street, (putting them) farther into the properties and then using the sidewalks themselves as stormwater and utility trenches,” Norton said.

He isn’t so sure of roundabouts, which he says he generally favors but wonders if they’ll be effective on Green, with the large amount of traffic that would use them.

“I don’t believe Piccadilly Circus can be in front of the civic center,” Norton said, referring to the iconic road network in London.

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