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Martin Road residents ask for widening project to be axed
Gary McClung, representing the Martin Road Stakeholder Committee, formally requests the Martin Road widening project be removed from transportation plans.

Martin Road residents formally asked Hall County area transportation planners Wednesday to ditch a highly contested plan to widen the South Hall road.

“It should now be clear to all parties involved, after multiple public meetings and the many … ‘concept’ alternatives introduced, that the public is not in favor of this project, and that widening of Martin Road and designating it a freight corridor route is not in the best interest of Hall County,” a letter from the Martin Road Stakeholder Committee states.

The letter goes on to say that Martin Road, which runs between Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 and Winder Highway/Ga. 53, is a residential community and “simply not suitable as an industrial/commercial thoroughfare.”

The committee cites other reasons it opposes the project, including that “the demolition of 16 homes, the real property loss of an additional 26 homeowners, plus the decrease in property values of an additional 265 homes within the 5 communities along Martin Road … will negatively impact the County’s property tax base.”

“We’re not here to discuss or debate those reasons today, but just to make this request,” resident Gary McClung said.

The letter was presented at a meeting of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Coordinating Committee.

The MPO is Hall’s lead transportation planning agency. The technical committee, comprising area and state planners, engineers and other government officials, serves as an advisory group to the MPO’s decision-making Policy Committee and can only make recommendations.

The technical committee accepted the residents’ letter without any discussion or action.

The citizens group also requested that Martin Road be removed from Hall County’s list of “gateway corridors,” or key roadways where certain standards, such as ones involving building design and construction, must be met.

And residents also asked that a project calling for the widening of Ga. 13 from Radford Road to Ga. 53 be moved to the short-term projects list, “as the impact of Exit 14 will require this.”

Residents not only have opposed widening Martin Road, but they have sought to stop construction of Exit 14, a $27 million diamond interchange that would connect Martin Road at Ga. 13 on the east side of Interstate 985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is buying right of way for the project.

Meetings between residents and government officials have been held to come up with alternatives to widening Martin Road.

Several options have been pitched, including realigning Martin Road so that it connects to Ga. 13 or nearby Hog Mountain Road.

In each case, improvements to the JM Turk intersection would be made and the existing section of Martin Road that connects to Ga. 13 would become a cul-de-sac near Hall County Fire Station No. 5’s driveway.

A more recently developed option shows that the improvement at Martin Road and JM Turk could be a roundabout.

Another option shows Exit 14 traffic having access to Martin Road, but motorists would quickly encounter the roundabout. The option also shows possible stop signs on Martin at Quailwood Drive and Martin Trail/Martins Crossing West Drive. The road could also feature speed bumps and a lower speed limit.

“The whole focus would be to make (Martin Road) more residential by slowing down drivers that want to travel through the corridor,” said Adam Ivory of CDM Smith, consultant on a countywide freight study that includes Martin Road, at Wednesday’s meeting.

One other option, presented by Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller at a Jan. 18 meeting between officials and residents, calls for configuring lanes at the Martin Road intersection with the interchange so that traffic from Martin Road couldn’t access the interchange and traffic from the interchange couldn’t access Martin Road.

Traffic from both directions would be steered instead onto Ga. 13.