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Hall seeks federal money for roads
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Hall County is taking a second shot at getting some federal stimulus money to help with a couple of much-needed road projects.

The county, through the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization and the public works department, is seeking $50.4 million to widen Spout Springs Road and $32 million for the Sardis Road Connector.

“It’s a long shot, but you don’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket,” said Ryan Arnold, Hall County’s grants manager.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday to give its OK to seeking the money from the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery program.

The county long has planned to widen Spout Springs Road between Interstate 985 to the Gwinnett County line just beyond Thompson Mill Road. The road basically connects Flowery Branch in the west to Braselton in the east.

The two-lane road is heavily traveled, as residential and commercial growth has taken place throughout the area.

Hall County has used money from the special purpose local option sales tax to pay for several minor improvements along the stretch — a traffic light at Elizabeth Lane, adding center-turn lanes at several high-traffic spots and building a through lane at Hog Mountain Road.

Also, officials are studying the widening of Sardis Road between Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway and Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road.

The project caught some attention at a July public hearing on transportation, with a Sardis Road resident asking the status.

“We’ve always talked about a connector around Gainesville, and that would be a good start right there,” James Lester said.

Hall County engineer Kevin McInturff said the project is still in design.

The county sought money last year under the first TIGER program, which had about $1.5 billion in stimulus funding for projects nationwide.

The U.S. government received more than 1,450 applications totaling $59 billion, said Srikanth Yamala, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.

“This time around, there is only $600 million available, so competition is likely to be more intense,” Yamala said.

He added that TIGER II is geared toward “investments that have national significance, such as improving freight movements to and from ports, relieving major bottlenecks on (interstates).”

“So, I’m not sure how other projects, including ours, would rank,” Yamala said.

The grant application is due Monday.

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