Hall County is planning to build a new left-turn lane on traffic-heavy Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway at Memorial Park Drive.
The project would take place at a busy junction that sits between the historic Chicopee Mill Village and a corridor of Latino-owned businesses known as “Little Mexico.”
The intersection long has been a busy, tricky intersection. Motorists heading north into Gainesville on Ga. 13 often have to use the right shoulder to get around cars backing up to turn left.
“We’ve had citizens call and ask about (the intersection) for a while, and with it being a state route, we’ve always referred them to back to” the Georgia Department of Transportation, said Jody Woodall, Hall County civil engineer.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted last week to apply for funding under the DOT’s “quick response program,” which allows for a quicker turnaround on much-needed projects.
The work focuses on “operational improvements,” with the local government letting the project and covering costs exceeding $200,000, said Teri Pope, the DOT’s district spokeswoman.
“By going through this process, (Hall County) can manage (the project),” Woodall said.
Hall’s project is estimated to cost $214,682, with the DOT paying balance through its Quick Response operational improvement funds approved by the legislature. However, Woodall believes the project could end up costing less than $200,000.
The DOT will need to approve an encroachment permit and provide the money before the work begins, Woodall said.
Plans now call for receiving proposals from Hall’s two on-call contractors “to expedite the construction of this project,” states a county document presented to commissioners.
If all goes as hoped, the project could begin later this summer and be completed in the fall, Woodall said.
There “should not be any problems with the permit, as (the) DOT has worked with us all along (on the project),” Woodall said.
The joint effort has lasted about 18 months, Pope said.
Both have “brainstormed how they could improve the intersection,” she said. “The county doing engineering is most economical.”
Bill Stroud, a Chicopee resident, said he applauded the county for moving forward on improvements at the intersection.
“That’ll be a huge change and a very positive one,” he said.
He said he also would like to see work done at the other end of Memorial Park Drive, at its four-way intersection with Old Flowery Branch Road. Traffic can back up to Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road, a main artery through Gainesville.
Stroud suggests either a traffic light at Old Flowery Branch/Memorial Park or building a roundabout.
“We don’t have any projects in the design process right now,” Woodall said.
“But we are looking at that intersection and hopefully we’ll be able to bring some options to the commission and see if we can do something about it as well.”