It’s official: Martin Road won’t be on the new Exit 14 signs off Interstate 985.
The contractor working on the interchange will install the signs with just the name of H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway “when the project reaches that point in construction,” said Scott D. Frederick, area manager with the Georgia Department of Transportation, in an email Monday, July 30.
The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall County area’s lead transportation planning agency, had sought Martin Road’s removal from the sign, as long as the signs hadn’t already been made.
“The contractor had not ordered the signs for the project,” Frederick said.
The issue came up in the spring when Martin Road area residents learned that the DOT was planning for northbound and southbound signs on I-985 to direct motorists to Martin Road and H.F. Reed.
The $34 million interchange project, which is well underway with an estimated completion in fall of 2019, calls for a diamond interchange connecting Martin Road at Ga. 13 on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.
“We respectfully request to remove Martin Road from the Exit 14 interstate signs on I-985,” Darlene Long, chairwoman of Martin Road Stakeholders, said in an April 22 email to state and local officials.
The issue tore at old wounds for residents — many of whom didn’t think the interchange was needed in the first place and had placed “Stop Exit 14” signs in their yards.
The worry has long been the flood of traffic a new interchange might bring, particularly trucks, through a mostly residential neighborhood.
“Martin Road does not need to be extended into a freight corridor, especially since the widening of this residential road will not happen,” Long said. “Martin Road is no longer a part of this freight exit and is a no-truck zone road.”
In their quest to remove Martin Road from the sign, residents had the support of Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell, who said, “If you want to steer traffic away from Martin Road, you don’t advertise Martin Road up ahead.”
The MPO’s decision-making Policy Committee, a group comprising top area elected officials, agreed, pushing for the removal in a May 8 vote.
Meanwhile, Martin Road has gotten — and is getting — other fixes to help slow traffic. Stop signs have been installed and a roundabout at JM Turk is planned.
“We are moving toward getting things under control,” said Gary McClung, a Martin Road Stakeholders Committee member. “We are still having some issues with speeding going east into the junction of JM Turk with Martin Road.”