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Martin Road now part of countywide freight study in Hall
A traffic study of Martin Road will now be folded into a countywide freight study.

A study of traffic in the Martin Road area of South Hall — near where a much-opposed interchange is being built — will be folded into a countywide freight study.

“That way, we don’t have to seek additional or a new source of funding,” said Sam Baker, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency.

And there would be likely freight movement at the planned Exit 14 interchange off Interstate 985 — a Georgia Department of Transportation project that could start as early as this fall — as the western side of the interchange is a growing industrial area.

“We’d share with the consultant what the concerns are for that area and how to direct freight away from that neighborhood,” Baker said.

Truck traffic is banned on Martin Road, which runs between two key arteries, Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 and Winder Highway/Ga. 53, east of I-985. The road is mostly residential but also has churches and a school, Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science.

“It’s my understanding that, as this interchange gets built, that road is still going to be listed as no-through (for) trucks,” Ken Rearden, Hall County’s public works and utilities director, has said.

Martin Road residents are strongly opposed to the $27 million interchange and continued to speak out at a Wednesday meeting of an MPO committee made up of area engineers, city managers and other officials.

“This is not a good project. It’s a wrong project, and we’re trying to stand up for what’s right,” said one of the project’s chief foes, Brad Farrow, to the group.

Residents are largely worried about the impact of the flood of new vehicles on the already twisty, hilly two-lane Martin Road. But they’re also concerned about a future project calling for the road’s widening, which could displace homes and residents.

Such concerns helped spur the traffic study — approved earlier this year — that would consider options to widening Martin Road.

Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew suggested Wednesday that the group focus more on the traffic study than battling the interchange itself.

“If you can’t stop these things, then I think you should use your energy to create whatever is going to happen,” he said. “When things are inevitable, the best you can do is make it better for the community.”

“We’re going to continue to be against Exit 14,” Farrow responded. “We think it’s a waste of money. We hear about all these other projects — Spout Springs (widening) and what have you. I wish we could take this (interchange) money and put it over there.”

As for the freight study, consultants have until August to submit proposals for the work, and the Hall County Board of Commissioners ultimately would hire the consultant, Baker said.

The DOT has set a Dec. 31, 2017 deadline, but the work could be finished by June 30, Baker said.

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