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Ask The Times: City considering ways to connect Dawsonville Highway parking lots
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The city of Gainesville is aiming to fight traffic congestion by connecting parking lots along Dawsonville Highway, including North Lake Square. - photo by David Barnes

If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following questions were submitted by readers and answered through the efforts of our news staff.

Will the MPO or city studies look at connecting the Home Depot parking lot to the Academy Sports lot? And connecting the backs of some of the smaller lots that front on Dawsonville Highway (including the proposed Lidl) to those parking lots? Much of the traffic on Dawsonville Highway is people driving on Dawsonville Highway to get from one store to another. We are suffering the death from 1,000 curb cuts.

“The city is currently exploring ways to connect the Home Depot parking lot to the Academy Sports lot, which would provide connectivity from Ahaluna Drive to Shallowford Road without having to access Dawsonville Highway,” Gainesville Planning Manager Matt Tate wrote in an email. “In most cases, interparcel access is located within private property, which can present challenges such as the neighboring property owner not agreeing to it, steep topography, location of structures/utilities and other development costs. (Georgia) DOT controls all driveway permits along (Ga.) 53/Dawsonville Highway.”

Gainesville Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard also noted the city’s efforts on this front.

“The city is requesting planning money though the MPO from GDOT/(Federal Highway Administration) for a connectivity study along Dawsonville Highway and McEver Road. This study will look at possible new connector routes along these corridors to alleviate some of the congestion,” Sheppard wrote in an email. “The study area does include the Home Depot and Academy Sports shopping (centers). Additionally, with any new potential development, the city considers and encourages connectivity among parcels.”

Tim Knight, developer of the North Lake Square shopping center that opened in the fall of 2015 and includes Academy Sports + Outdoors, Hobby Lobby and Burlington, said he explored the possibility of helping tie the shopping centers on that side of Dawsonville Highway together through connected parking lots.

Ultimately, he said, the topography and having to get too many property owners on board kept it from becoming a reality.

“There were too many obstacles to make it work,” Knight said.

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