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Looking Ahead: Roadwork happening, but much on hold in 2009
Ongoing construction at Exit 16 of Interstate 985 will continue through the upcoming year. While this project will continue, the status of many other roads projects in Hall County and across Georgia remains up in the air. - photo by Tom Reed

2009: The Year Ahead

As the last days of 2008 wane, The Times takes a look at what could lie ahead for the region in the coming year. Topics include:

A look ahead at Gainesville

A look ahead at education

A look at public safety

From roads to bridges to resurfacing work, Hall County has a laundry list of transportation projects under way or up in the air.

But much of the work is on hold while the Georgia Department of Transportation tries to figure out which projects it wants to do — and how much it can afford — through a statewide prioritization process.

Financial problems in the department have put the state in such a mode, and all motorists eager to see something done on their roads can do is wait.

Teri Pope, DOT spokeswoman for Northeast Georgia, said the newly prioritized list of projects should come out in 2009 and “at that time, we will have a time line for our projects.”

“Every project is being reviewed based on a cost benefit analysis,” she added.

For the time being, construction will continue in full swing on one of Hall County’s most noticeable road projects, the $75 million makeover of Interstate 985 and Exit 16.

The project involves widening of Mundy Mill Road and Atlanta Highway and the construction of a new interchange, Exit 17, off Atlanta Highway.

In the coming year, motorists should see a wider interstate crossing over Mundy Mill Road, a new northbound entrance ramp off Mundy Mill, a new southbound ramp off Exit 17 and a new northbound exit ramp onto Atlanta Highway.

The completion date is Feb. 10, 2010, and the project is “currently ahead of schedule,” Pope said.
Construction also is expected to get started on the eagerly awaited completion of Thurmon Tanner Parkway.

The four-lane road, which will ultimately connect Phil Niekro Boulevard in Flowery Branch to Atlanta Highway in Oakwood at Exit 17, will run parallel to I-985 throughout its nearly 5-mile stretch.

It has long been envisioned as an office/industrial/commercial artery much as Satellite Boulevard is to Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.

The final 1.3-mile leg of the road will connect Plainview Road to Mundy Mill Road, all in Oakwood.

The road also is expected to ease some of the Mundy Mill congestion, and Oakwood city officials have long said they expect the road completion to spur commercial building and redevelopment in the area.

“Construction will likely start this spring when the contractor has materials, equipment and people gathered and ready,” Pope said.

The DOT also hopes to replace traffic lights and improve pedestrian crossings along Ga. 369, or Browns Bridge Road and Jesse Jewell Parkway, between McEver Road and Barn Street.

Hall County has a slew of other projects waiting in the wings, including the widening of Friendship Road in South Hall, improvements to five intersections along McEver Road in West Hall and the realignment of Ga. 52 in Northeast Hall that also features the replacement of a 1,000-foot, 53-year-old bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River.

Some much-needed road maintenance may get moving throughout Georgia depending on what happens with President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package.

Georgia has sought about $3.4 million in transportation needs, including $2.2 billion for road and bridge projects.

Hall County’s share in those projects is about $40 million.

They are the resurfacing of Mount Vernon Road from Thompson Bridge Road to Dahlonega Highway, a 9.3-mile stretch; Athens Highway from Monroe Drive to Gillsville Highway, 2.9 miles; and Ga. 365 from Lula Road/Ga. 52 to the Habersham County line, 12.2 miles.

The Ga. 365 resurfacing is estimated to cost $24.6 million.

The other Hall project, Pope said, is concrete slab replacement, grinding and guardrail work on Ga. 365 from Jesse Jewell Parkway to Ga. 52, a 12.2-mile, $11.3 million project.
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