Imagine, as a pedestrian, not having to run for your life when crossing Green Street.
That was the case Wednesday, as the usually busy Gainesville street was closed until mid-afternoon. Crews spent most of the day dealing with fallen power lines due to overnight storms.
But, while all was quiet on the four-lane road that serves as main artery through town, traffic winded bumper to bumper along detour routes.
The day’s experience highlighted the need to develop alternate routes across town, as well as improvements to Green Street, Mayor Danny Dunagan said.
“Thank goodness, the city school system was out today,” he said. “Can you imagine if everyone was trying to get to school today? It would have been an absolute nightmare.”
“We’re working on (improvements), as we speak,” Dunagan added. “This was a wakeup (call), I guess you’d say.”
City officials are looking at a plan to connect Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 to Limestone Parkway/U.S. 129, which leads to Jesse Jewell Parkway/Ga. 369 and Interstate 985.
The effort would involve widening and realigning Oak Tree Drive, which is between Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive, and adding a traffic light at Oak Tree and Thompson Bridge Road.
At the same time, Gainesville has been long trying to solve Green Street traffic woes.
A study was performed last year on what lies underneath the road and where utilities are located to determine what improvements could be made.
A second phase is underway to “study neighboring areas around Green Street to alleviate
traffic congestion on this road,” according to a Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization document.
The MPO is the Hall County area’s lead transportation planning agency.
The study’s second phase is expected to be finished in December.
“(Green Street) is not going to be an easy fix,” Dunagan said.
Suggestions about Green Street include burying utility lines.
“That would be a huge positive for Green Street and situations like (what happened Wednesday),” the mayor said.
The road was closed after a tree fell on some power lines, ultimately “leading to nine poles being taken down,” said Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, Gainesville Police spokesman.
Georgia Department of Transportation crews arrived about 1 a.m. Wednesday, district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said.
Others responded, as well, including the city’s public works department, Georgia Power and other utilities.
The road was shut down between E.E. Butler Parkway and Enota Avenue before portions of the road were opened back up incrementally, with the road being fully open by 3:40 p.m.
During the storm, no one was injured along the road, which is a historic district, and no buildings were damaged.
“There’s some structural damage, as far as the sidewalks and things of that nature,” Holbrook said.