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McEver intersection improvements on hold
1204McEver sj
Oakwood is preparing to improve McEver Road at H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway, including installing a traffic light. Work planned at five other intersections along McEver is on hold because of state Department of Transportation budget problems. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Hall County knows where the money will come from for the work, but it’s waiting on state decisions concerning road projects before it moves ahead with its part in improving five intersections along McEver Road.

The county and Georgia Department of Transportation have planned to complete the project for several years, with Hall County paying its share from its 1-cent sales tax program.

But DOT’s budget woes that have emerged this year are putting the brakes on the reconstruction work, which would affect Gaines Ferry, Lights Ferry, Jim Crow, Flat Creek and Old Flowery Branch roads along the heavily traveled West Hall corridor.

Oakwood, meanwhile, is doing some work, including installing a traffic light, at H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway and the entrance to Oakwood South Industrial Park.

The $175,000 project is set to be completed early next year, Assistant City Manager Patti Doss-Luna said.

The project involving the other intersections, "like all our projects (statewide), is going through a prioritization process now," DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said. "I do not have a timeline for it."

County officials are "waiting to see if McEver Road falls into the (state’s) list of prioritized projects before we spend money on designing the intersections," said Nikki Young, spokeswoman for the county. "We don’t want to spend taxpayer dollars on a lengthy design process and then the DOT not fund construction."

Hall County has planned to do the design and preliminary engineering work and let the state handle construction.

The work will involve construction of right-turn lanes on each side of the intersections and left-turn lanes where needed, "improving pedestrian access with ... signals and crosswalks and replacing the traffic signal equipment," Pope said.

The total project cost is estimated to be $10.4 million, Young said.

The project would involve $1.6 million from the county, $1.8 million from the state and $7 million from the federal government, she added.

The current estimated cost for right-of-way acquisition is $2.8 million, and for construction $5.8 million, Pope said.

The project was added to the DOT’s work program in 2006, she said.

Hall would pay for the administrative costs of acquiring the right of way, and the DOT would pay for the real property costs, said Jody Woodall, a civil engineer in Hall’s public works department.

The state’s prioritizing of projects "should be completed shortly after the new year," Pope said.

Hall County, like other areas of the state, has numerous projects that are on hold, including the realignment of Ga. 52 near Lula Park in northeast Hall that also features the replacement of a 1,000-foot, 53-year-old bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River.

The realignment project has lingered for a decade, gaining priority only as the need to replace the bridge has risen.

A DOT public hearing on the work Tuesday night drew 36 people, Pope said.

"Our most frequent comment was, ‘How soon can you do this?’" she said.

The project is estimated to cost $4 million for right of way and $12 million for construction.

One major project forging ahead despite state financial problems is the extension of the four-lane Thurmon Tanner Parkway from Plainview Road to Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood.

Mark McKinnon, a DOT spokesman, said in a September interview that too many steps had been taken to stop work on the 1.3-mile project, which will cost $6.7 million.

"We were past the point of no return," he said.