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Martin Road widening taken out of Halls road plans
A $46 million widening of Martin Road in South Hall was officially scrapped Tuesday in favor of a lesser project expected to cost $600,000-plus.

A $46 million widening of Martin Road in South Hall was officially scrapped Tuesday in favor of a lesser project expected to cost $600,000-plus.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s decision-making Policy Committee voted to make the change, which was the result of work between county officials and a committee of Martin Road residents.

The MPO is the Hall County area’s lead transportation planning agency.

“I’d like to thank everybody … who took the time to work with us and listen to us to get us to where we are today,” Martin Road resident Gina Pilcher said.

Officials had called for widening Martin Road from Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 to Winder Highway/Ga. 53 sometime between 2024 and 2032.

However, as part of a countywide freight study, officials agreed to relook at the Martin Road project and include residents as part of the discussion.

Also fueling the study was the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plans to build an Interstate 985 interchange at Martin Road, or Exit 14.

Residents initially protested Exit 14 but widened their concerns to include the road widening. They said they were worried that the interchange would create more traffic, especially trucks, for the mostly residential Martin Road.

Residents and officials eventually settled on an alternative to the widening that would include a possible roundabout on Martin at JM Turk Road and stop signs along Martin.

Also, along Martin, “traffic calming measures, such as speed bumps and tables, may be applied where necessary,” according to a map of the project.

Also, the speed may be reduced from 45 to 35 mph. And officials would work with Hall County Schools “to study and identify possible driveway improvements” at Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science.

“We can’t always get everything we want, but this is a really good compromise to resolve most of the issues that we had — safety being the No. 1,” resident Dan White told a group gathered at Mulberry Creek Community Center last week.

Sam Baker, the MPO’s transportation planning manager, said minor fixes, such as stop signs and signs prohibiting truck travel, could be done in 3-6 months.

At the same time, Hall County would “explore funding and funding sources” for the bigger fixes, such as the roundabout.

Meanwhile, the Exit 14 project could go out for construction bids later this year.

The $27 million diamond interchange will connect Martin Road at Falcon Parkway on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.