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Good weather propels Ga. 347 work
2 projects set to widen congested road
0902road 6
A motorgrader and vibrating roller dress out dirt at the Lanier Islands Parkway and McEver Road intersection. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Orange construction barrels are scattered across 7 miles of Ga. 347 as road crews are taking advantage of the summer’s good weather to move along two separate widening efforts in what is Hall County’s biggest road project.

With Ga. 347 newly widened to four and six lanes between Spout Springs Road and Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway, crews are busy grading and setting the six-lane width of the new road as it cuts between Interstate 985 and Spout Springs.

“It’s a mess,” said longtime Friendship Road resident Chris Puckett.

In July, the Georgia Department of Transportation shifted a half-mile section of road to allow construction to continue on a culvert protecting Sherwood Creek. And the speed limit for the entire stretch dropped to 35 mph.

“That means people have slowed down to 50,” Puckett said with a laugh.

The speed limit was lowered “because of the construction and frequent traffic shifts along this section,” DOT District Engineer Bayne Smith has said.

Culvert construction is taking place at Woody Springs and Friendship Farm roads, DOT district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

This week, if weather permits, crews will close the western leg of Williams Road as it connects with Ga. 347 for construction of a new intersection, Pope said, adding that motorists should use the eastern leg to access Ga. 347.

Currently, Williams Road forks into Ga. 347 at two places.

Work also is picking back up in places along Ga. 347 between McEver Road and I-985 — especially at McEver.

Railroad bridge work resumes today, now that the nesting season for the barn swallow is over.

The barn swallow is a protected bird that could have a habitat under a bridge along the stretch, just east of McEver.

The bird’s possible presence meant workers had to hold off completing a bridge barrier and side walls, Pope said.

Crews are “still working to set the final grade of McEver, then they (can) pave it,” she said.

Once a second layer of asphalt is done throughout the project, crews will begin to pave the top layer of asphalt, or the smooth driving surface.

“The asphalt (motorists) are driving on now is not the final driving surface,” Pope said, adding that crews are paving at night.

Husein Khimani, general manager/owner of the Holiday Inn Express of Ga. 347, said the roadwork “initially caused a big stir” among people on the road, but many see its long-term benefits.

“I view it as growing pains,” he said.

A newly widened road loosening the congestion that’s on the road “will definitely help out,” Khimani said. “It’ll be positive relief.”

Overall, the 8-mile project is costing $38.4 million.

The McEver-I-985 section is on schedule for completion by Nov. 30, Pope said, and the widening between I-985 and Ga. 211 should be done by Jan. 12, 2016.