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GDOT to hold meeting Thursday on widening US 129
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Road project meeting

What: Widening of U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway

When: 5-7 p.m. Thursday

Where: North Hall High School, 4885 Mount Vernon Road, Gainesville

More info: Georgia Department of Transportation, 770-532-5526

For some, Thursday’s public information open house on widening U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway in North Hall County may seem familiar.

The Georgia Department of Transportation also held public meetings on the road project in May 1998 and November 2007.

Changing engineering standards and federal environmental laws particularly created delays between 1998 and 2007, district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

“From 2007 to now, funding slowed the project,” she said. “And GDOT wants to include people in (its) development since the area has grown so much, and the work includes two bridges over Lake Lanier. Starting over is the best choice.”

The project calls for widening U.S. 129 to four lanes from Limestone Parkway to 1,500 feet south of Jim Hood/Nopone Road, or 5.4 miles.

The project also calls for a raised median to be built between Limestone and Bivins Road, where it will become a grassy median.

“Most of the project utilizes rural shoulders, but in sections where development has occurred, the shoulders will be urban with curb and gutter and sidewalks,” states a legal ad on the project.

Also planned, as part of the widening, is replacing a two-lane bridge over the Chattahoochee River crossing of Lake Lanier and a two-lane bridge over the East Fork Little River crossing of Lake Lanier.

There will be two bridges at each location, each bridge carrying two lanes of traffic, Pope has said.

Details on when the DOT might buy right of way or build the project, as well as how many parcels could be affected, will be available at the meeting, she said.

The Chattahoochee bridge was built in 1956, and the bridge over the East Fork was built in 1957.

“The engineering done on these projects in the 1990s has to be updated as standards and (Federal Highway Administration) requirements have changed,” Pope said. “Georgia DOT is starting over to develop a plan for this corridor.

“We hope people will come and be a part of the developmental process. We need to know how the road is used and what the community wants for the corridor.”

No formal presentation is planned at the open house, which will take place 5-7 p.m. at North Hall High School, 4885 Mount Vernon Road.

Instead, people will be able to view maps of the project, ask questions and offer comments.

Displays can be viewed 10 days after the open house online.

“A big part of widening a roadway is bringing it up to current design standards,” Pope said.

“Many of the curves will be flattened out or bisected with a new straight roadway. Hills will be lowered and valleys raised to improve the distance drivers can see. We hope the community will share their input on safety improvements, too.

“We pull the crash data but want to know the real-life experience of drivers on the roadway.”

Pat Pruitt, who lives at the Quillians Corner community off U.S. 129, is anxious to learn about the DOT plans, as her experience has been that traffic frequently slows on the road because of congestion.

The added trouble is “there’s nowhere to pass,” she said.

And as someone who has been taken twice by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, “it’s real frightening to think that ambulances can’t get around traffic or get through,” she said.