Cash or Credit? For those traveling Cash Road to reach Hog Mountain Road in South Hall, it’s more than a financial decision — it’s a navigational one.
In what may be humorous for those unfamiliar to the area, motorists can stay on Cash or turn right on Credit Drive to reach Hog Mountain, a key traffic artery in Flowery Branch.
But that won’t be a decision for much longer, as Hall County is planning to straighten Cash Road and make it the only option for motorists traveling to Hog Mountain.
The $2.35 million road improvement is one of Hall County’s remaining special purpose local option sales tax projects before SPLOST VIII, approved by voters in November, kicks in July 1.
The county still has about $33.5 million in unfinished projects from SPLOST VII, ranging from road work to fire stations and park renovations. The projects are either underway or in various planning stages.
SPLOST, which became a taxing method for governments through a state law passed in 1985, is a 1% sales tax, or a penny on the dollar, with proceeds divided between the county and its cities. The money can only be used for capital projects, not for funding operations.
SPLOST VII was approved by voters in March 2015, and collections started that summer. It was projected to generate $158 million. As of Nov. 30, $141.6 million had been collected; collections continue until June 30.
“It is common for SPLOST projects to continue for a period of time after proceeds are no longer being collected,” said Katie Crumley, Hall County spokeswoman. “However, county staff works diligently to complete all projects in a timely manner.
Remaining SPLOST projects
These key projects are finishing up or yet to start before Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax VIII kicks in on July 1:
Cash Road improvements at Hog Mountain Road: $2.35 million
Sardis Road Connector right of way acquisition and utility relocation: $17.5 million
New Fire Station 17 in South Hall and equipment: $5.7 million
Fire Station 1 relocation: $2.5 million
Main Library renovations: $2 million
Road resurfacing: $2 million
Murrayville Park renovations: $1.4 million
Gainesville Fire Station No. 2 relocation: $4 million
J. Melvin Cooper Youth Athletic Complex: $6.8 million
Source: Hall County, Gainesville
As for the Hog Mountain/Cash Road project, an engineering consultant is developing final plans, including the timeline, potential right of way acquisition and final total cost estimate, Crumley said in a recent email.
“The engineers are in the process of surveying the property and preparing drawings for a mid-January meeting (on the project),” she said. “The (right of way) acquisition can begin shortly thereafter.”
The project, which calls for Credit Drive to end in a cul-de-sac, came up during a discussion in 2019 about a proposed 334-unit apartment complex at 4496 Hog Mountain Road, next to Flowery Branch High School and across from Cash Road.
Area residents said they were concerned about traffic generated by the project mixing with the already high volume of cars.
But developers, who got approval from Flowery Branch City Council for the project on Sept. 20, said they expected a mixture of traffic improvements in the area to help ease the crunch. In addition to Cash Road, future improvements include Exit 14 opening, Spout Springs Road widening and Interstate 985 widening.
The lion’s share of the $33.5 million in SPLOST projects is related to the long-awaited Sardis Road Connector in northwest Hall. Some $17.5 million from SPLOST VII will be combined with $10 million from SPLOST VIII to pay for right of way acquisition, utility relocation and other work.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted in November to begin the right of way acquisition process for the project.
The route would run from the Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 area in West Hall to Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 in North Hall. Right of way acquisition would affect a total of 143 parcels, including 32 homes and six businesses.
Right of way acquisition is expected to take about two years, and construction on the project could begin in fiscal year 2024, county spokesman Brian Stewart told The Times in November.
One very noticeable SPLOST VII project is renovations at the Main Street branch of the Hall County Library System in Gainesville. The branch closed in March 2019 for the work, which is expected to be finished in July or August, officials have said.
Gainesville also has $10.8 million in unfinished projects from SPLOST VII: $4 million for the Gainesville Fire Station No. 2 relocation and $6.8 million for the J. Melvin Cooper Youth Athletic Complex. The city also has a mix of public works projects, such as repaving.
“All projects are underway and projected for completion,” Gainesville spokeswoman Christina Santee said.
Construction could begin in late 2020 on the J. Melvin Cooper complex on Old Cornelia Highway. The fire station relocation is scheduled for completion by June 30.
The county’s smaller cities also are spending remaining SPLOST money for road resurfacing and infrastructure efforts. Flowery Branch has $184,371 designated for police vehicles and $43,250 for a citywide sign project, city officials said.
SPLOST VIII is projected to bring in about $217 million between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2026, officials have said.
The county and cities have released a list of their projects, which include improvements for roads, parks, public safety, trails and greenspace.