Hall County wants to build a $3.4 million bridge on Tumbling Creek Road in the same area where the Georgia Department of Transportation ordered a railroad crossing closed in late 2014 out of safety concerns.
The Board of Commissioners is slated to vote Thursday to apply for a state grant, which would pick up most of the tab.
The bridge would cross allow motorists to travel between Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway near Chicopee Woods Golf Course to Old Oakwood Road.
Old Oakwood Road leads to Mundy Mill Road to the south and Mountain View Road to the north. Heading in the opposite direction, Tumbling Creek Road acts as an access point to Exit 17 off Interstate 985.
The project “would change the face of South Hall,” Commissioner Scott Gibbs said.
“Absolutely,” said Jessica Robinson, the county’s resource development and grants manager.
“Make sure you go down the public safety avenue because it’s definitely an issue with Gainesville putting an elementary school (in that area),” Gibbs said. “And it’s an issue for our fire department trying to access (that area) currently.”
The Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank grant would require area governments to chip in $300,000 toward the project.
“We are working with other potential partners,” including Gainesville, Oakwood and Norfolk Southern Railway in getting that money pledged, Robinson told commissioners.
When the commission asked about her progress, she said, “We have just started the process.”
The county used to have a railroad crossing at nearby Tumbling Circle, but the DOT ordered it closed in September 2014 at Norfolk Southern's request.
Hall County officials had twice declined to close the crossing, arguing that the crossing was closed to pad Norfolk Southern’s bottom line and that shutting off the thoroughfare would have consequences for motorists and public safety agencies.
In March, the commission voted not to abandon right of way along Tumbling Circle.
Ken Rearden, Hall's public works and public utilities director, said he expects getting the project properly permitted by the railroad would take some time.
“I’m guesstimating two years,” he said.
The bridge also could feature space for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, eventually linking to other trails, Rearden said.
Hall is currently developing the Central Hall Multi-use Trail, which is being built nearby along Ga. 13 between Gainesville and Oakwood.