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Hall commissioners seek 'immediate action' on Ga. 365
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Following Tuesday’s fatal crash at the intersection of Ga. 365 and Howard Road, the Hall County Board of Commissioners approved a letter Thursday asking the Georgia Department of Transportation for “immediate action” to address traffic conditions.

Commission Chairman Tom Oliver recommended the letter, which will be sent to GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden and signed by each of the commissioners, at the commission meeting Thursday night.

“We obviously have a severe problem,” said Commissioner Billy Powell of the stretch of Ga. 365 in Gainesville just north of where Interstate 985 ends.

Clayton resident Anna Hermansen was pronounced dead Tuesday at Northeast Georgia Medical Center after the two-car collision. Her son, Michael Hermansen, was airlifted to Grady Hospital in Atlanta in critical condition.

After the meeting, Oliver clarified what he was looking for with the letter.

“Blinking lights, traffic signals, turn signals. We want the whole nine yards,” he said.

The stretch of highway in question is in the jurisdiction of GDOT, and any changes must come from the state.
However, Oliver said he would be willing to offer help from Hall County traffic staff if needed.

The letter from the commission is just part of the public outcry about traffic conditions in the area of Ga. 365 near Howard and White Sulphur roads.

Tuesday’s crash only served to elevate the focus.

In the letter, commissioners cited 14 crashes in that area so far in 2012.

That includes 24-year-old Steven Rondal Collins, a Clermont resident, who was killed at the intersection of Ga. 365 and White Sulphur Road when his car collided with a tractor trailer.

“I wouldn’t say that one crash is more important than others,” Oliver said after the meeting, answering a question on the timing of the letter. “They all involve people. We’re just ready to move forward now.”

Earlier this week, GDOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said changes were coming to the Ga. 365-Howard Road intersection including blinking beacon lights and new road striping aimed at reducing vehicle pileup in the median.

Also at Thursday’s commission meeting:

— Commissioners postponed a public hearing on the proposed development of a residential area on the east side of Davis Bridge Road. The applicant, Sonny Bentley, had initially proposed small A-shaped cottages to be constructed for short-term rentals. Following opposition from neighbors, Bentley has said he would resubmit a new proposal that would nix plans on short-term rentals and the original housing style.

— Commissioner Craig Lutz announced he had spoken to water rate consultant CDM about what it would take for the county to study Gainesville Public Utilities’ water rate structure. Currently, residents outside city limits pay double the water rate. Lutz and other commissioners voted to investigate the water rates to confirm they were fair.

— Commissioners gave final approval to a new alcohol ordinance that would allow for Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated Hall County starting immediately. The approval follows a March 6 vote by Hall County residents to repeal a Sunday alcohol ban.