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Hall County could consider traffic study consultant next week
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The Hall County Board of Commissioners could vote next week on a consultant for an upcoming Gainesville transportation study.

The matter is slated to come up at the commission’s work session Monday and then for a vote next Thursday, Planning Director Srikanth Yamala told the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s technical coordinating committee Wednesday.

“Once we have a consultant on board, obviously they’ll be working very closely with this committee. That’s one of the requirements,” Yamala said. “It’ll be an eight to 10-month process, and we hope to have something wrapped up by August.”

Gainesville approached the MPO in March for help with the study.

Mayor Danny Dunagan has said that one of his goals as mayor was completing the study, which he believed was long overdue.

He also said he was unhappy that the project list for the doomed July 31 transportation sales tax referendum featured one regional project in Gainesville — improvements to Jesse Jewell Parkway at Ga. 60/John Morrow Parkway.

“One of the reasons Gainesville didn’t get any more projects was that Gainesville does not have a traffic plan, and I did not know that (at the time),” Dunagan said. “I should have, I guess, but I didn’t.”

The MPO has received six proposals from firms on the transportation study and officials talked with the top four candidates last week, Yamala said.

The agency has set aside $125,000 for the study — $25,000 from the city and $100,000 from the Federal Highway Administration.

“We’ll be including extensive public and stakeholder involvement throughout the planning process,” Yamala has said.
In other business at the MPO meeting, the committee voted to recommend to the policy committee — the MPO’s decision-making body, comprising elected officials from Hall’s city and county governments — that the organization “stay the course” with current road priorities.

The MPO has projects laid out in its long-term 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan and the short-term Transportation Improvement Program.

Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown brought up the matter, saying that, in the wake of the transportation tax’s failure at the polls, “there are some who might think that there’s a need to just reset all of our priorities.”

He said he believes the MPO should remain committed to projects already planned.

“We’ve done a lot of work over the years to develop a transportation plan,” Brown said. “Funds have been programmed, projects are moving forward and I don’t think now is the time to get off course.”