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How Exit 14 work is affecting school traffic
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Traffic backs up on Atlanta Highway near Martin Road on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Flowery Branch. Due to road construction, Martin Road has basically been reduced to a two-lane road with no turn lanes in all directions, causing major backups in the morning and afternoon. - photo by Scott Rogers

Exit 14 construction has formed a traffic bottleneck at a key South Hall crossroad — one that sits between several Hall County schools.

“Certainly, it has caused some challenges, but we’ve worked around it,” Superintendent Will Schofield said Monday, Oct. 22, of work at Martin Road and Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13. “We’ve got plans to divert (school traffic), but there are days when kids don’t get home in time.”

Otherwise, the project “hasn’t been any more disruptive than some of the other road projects that have happened around us in the past.”

Construction has ramped up considerably in the past couple of weeks at the intersection, which will be the eastern side of the new Exit 14 being built off Interstate 985.

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A bulldozer moves dirt around along Martin Road on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Flowery Branch. - photo by Scott Rogers

Workers have narrowed traffic in all directions to two lanes, removing turn lanes, as they work to widen the road in that area. The effort has called for a traffic shift to new lanes while crews dig up and grade over old lanes.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced the shift in mid-September, saying “this  will allow more construction on (Ga. 13) associated with the Exit 14 interchange.” 

The turn lanes are scheduled to reopen by mid-January, DOT spokeswoman Katie Strickland said. 

Similar work is taking place on the western side of the interchange, at Thurmon Tanner Parkway and H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway. Traffic on Thurmon Tanner has been narrowed from four to two lanes.

Schofield said he’s more concerned about Martin Road traffic patterns after the $34 million project’s estimated completion in the fall of 2019.

“We just really don’t know what’s going to happen until it opens up,” he said.

The project includes the widening of Martin Road from two to four lanes with a raised 20-foot median from Falcon Parkway to the school.

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Exit 14 construction in South Hall has temporarily reduced Martin Road to a two-lane road with no turn lanes in all directions, causing major backups in the morning and afternoon. - photo by Scott Rogers

As a result, left turns out of Martin Technology Academy may not be allowed, “which wouldn’t be a bad thing to do already,” Schofield said. “I welcome that. We do that at some of our schools, where we only allow right turns during drop-off and pickup.”

Hall County is planning on building a roundabout at Martin and JM Turk Road just south of Martin Technology. The roundabout is currently in design, Hall spokeswoman Katie Crumley said.

“We should have a preliminary sketch plan this week or next,” she said.

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