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Hall could ditch district system to prioritize worst roads for resurfacing funds
Hall County Government Center
Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Hall County is weighing a change to the way its $4.64 million road resurfacing cash is divvied up among its four commission districts.

Each year, the county resurfaces about 21 miles of local roads using state funds through the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program from the Georgia Department of Transportation, which requires a 30 percent match from the county.

Currently, the proceeds of the grant are split among the four commission districts as equally as possible while taking into account the amount of road surface in the district. Commissioner Scott Gibbs told The Times commissioners are considering changing the resurfacing program to prioritize the roads that are in the worst condition.

As the largest district by far, Commission District 3 covering North Hall and East Hall was slated to get the largest cut of the funding and have the most miles of road improved in 2017:

  • District 1, South Hall: 4.822 miles, $1.06 million

  • District 2, West Hall: 4.97 miles, $1.09 million

  • District 3, North Hall and East Hall: 8.97 miles, $1.97 million

  • District 4, Central Hall: 2.36 miles, $519,120

The longest stretches of road being resurfaced in each district are Countryside Drive (1.44 miles) in District 1, Stephens Road (2.46 miles) in District 2, Glade Farm Road (3.97 miles) in District 3 and McConnell Drive (1.03 miles) in District 4.

Gibbs requested the item be tabled at the group’s Tuesday work session ahead of the group’s voting meeting on Thursday.

At the moment, Hall County Public Works identifies roads in rough condition throughout the county and categorizes them by district, according to Public Works Director Ken Rearden. Often there are side roads attached to the roads being resurfaced that are included in the paving work.

“We were going to see if there were any other critical needs,” Gibbs said. “They put together a great list, but we just may, for the first time ever, flip flop. Even though we’ve always divided it up as far as road miles, we may try to address needs more than that.”

Public Works grades roads on a 100-point scale, with the higher number reflecting the worse condition of the road. Gibbs said the county might prioritize the roads at 70 and above and “get some of those out of the way” instead of focusing on splitting money by district.

The biggest question going forward is whether side roads are included in resurfacing work. The new plan could include “starting at the top of the worst of the list and working our way down,” Rearden said.

That approach would leave side streets unpaved while focusing on the worst roads in the county as a whole.

Commissioner Billy Powell said the issue isn’t settled.

“I’m not sure I completely agree with that (approach),” Powell told The Times. “I think there’s also a logical degree of commissioners wanting to do the best job for their districts too. So I think there’ll be a balance in that. In my opinion, I don’t think it will be just a ratings-based selection. I think that will play a part of it.”

By leaving smaller roads, which might not be in worse condition compared to other roads in the county, unpaved, the county could set itself up to have small sections of neighborhood streets — some only a few hundred feet long — in need of paving in later years.

“While you’re doing 90 percent of a neighborhood, why not do 100 percent while you’re in there?” Powell said.

If tabled Thursday, the issue will likely return to commissioners at their next meeting in early September.

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