If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.
Why is there a sign on John Morrow Parkway at the traffic light for Bruster’s and Gainesville High School saying no U-turns between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.?
It comes from the time when “cruising” was popular among Gainesville teens and young adults in the area near Lakeshore Mall. Gainesville Police Capt. John Robertson said his department worked with the Georgia Department of Transportation in the 1990s to have the sign installed to “help alleviate the problem” of traffic backups caused by cruisers making U-turns to drive in circles.
Robertson, who joined the Gainesville Police Department in the mid-1990s, said cruising was the thing to do when he was a teenager and even up through the mid-2000s.
Former Times Editor Johnny Vardeman noted in a 2012 column that Pearl Nix Parkway was “the four-lane stretch beside Gainesville’s Lakeshore Mall that teenagers and young adults used to cruise to show off their cars, flirt with each other and just hang out instead of taking in a movie or staying home watching television.”
Robertson said the sign didn’t stop cruising, but it forced the drivers to turn left and go into Gainesville High School or one of the nearby business parking lots to get turned around.
The police captain isn’t sure why cruising fell off near the mall, though he wondered if the 1999 opening of Mall of Georgia helped lead to its decline.
“That sign has been there ever since,” Robertson said. “And the cruising scene hasn’t been for probably 10 years.”
He added that maybe Gainesville Police should reach out to DOT about having the sign removed.