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Intersection request goes Tuesday to planning group
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Roads meeting

What: Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization

When: 10 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

Contact: 770-297-2604

Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan is planning to ask Hall County’s lead transportation agency Tuesday to fast-track improvements to one of Gainesville’s busiest intersections so the Georgia Department of Transportation can explore acquiring right of way there.

“The DOT needs to go ahead and acquire that property before it is developed,” he said in an interview last week. “It will sure be a lot cheaper to get it now than when something is sitting there.”

The property being eyed is nearly three-quarters of an acre at Jesse Jewell and Queen City/John Morrow parkways.

Advertised as part of a two-lot package at $575,000, it also showcases part of Gainesville’s past, featuring a house at least 100 years old overlooking the intersection.

The family that owns the property issued a statement concerning the city’s interest.

“Right of way was previously obtained from this property to construct the intersection at its current size,” the family said. “Each time right of way is removed, the overall lot size is decreased and the marketability of the remaining property is also diminished.

“Our goal is that the lot remains intact at its current size and purchased in its entirety. We are open to work with either a public or private entity.”

In lieu of a purchase, “our plan is to recondition the house,” the family said.

“This would allow use of the four outside entrances to separate the interior into retail space. The combination of high ceilings and large windows lend themselves to possible studio space.”

The city has long eyed the intersection for improvements. It served as Gainesville’s only project among nine that Hall County listed as part of the failed transportation sales tax referendum in July 2012.

“If that (referendum) had passed, it would have been (done) relatively soon,” Dunagan said.

Regardless, “something’s got to be done with that intersection, he said.

Initially, he asked the DOT to look at buying right of way there for a future project.

But Teri Pope, DOT district spokeswoman, later said the department “can and does purchase property before it is developed” to save money but only on “active projects.”

To meet that requirement, Dunagan plans to ask that improvements — now in a long-range plan — be moved to a short-range list. He’ll present the request to the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s policy committee.

The MPO develops transportation plans for the Hall area, and the policy committee, comprising top elected officials in the area, is its decision-making arm.

The long-range plan shows intersection improvements at Jesse Jewell and John Morrow parkways, estimated at nearly $2.8 million and targeted for construction between 2018 and 2030.

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