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Memorial Park Drive traffic raising citizen concerns
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Traffic moves through the four-way stop intersecting Memorial Park Drive and Old Flowery Branch Road in Gainesville, on Friday, June 1, 2018, during heavy rain. Road planners are discussing ways to improve traffic flow at the intersection. - photo by David Barnes

Area residents are pushing for traffic fixes on Memorial Park Drive, a busy road connecting Browns Bridge Road/Ga. 369 and Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13.

Sam Baker, transportation planning manager of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, spoke to road planners recently about grass-roots concerns about traffic on the road.

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

“The MPO staff has received some comments from local citizens regarding the traffic congestion,” Baker said. “What we have found is that traffic congestion has risen a lot faster than we anticipated in light of industrial development that has grown on both sides.”

The road has been given a grade of F, or failing, as in the style of a school report card, because more cars are on the road than it was meant to handle, according to a presentation by Baker to the MPO’s decision-making Policy Committee.

Memorial Park Drive, which also has a school, funeral home and fire station and branches off into neighborhoods, has a capacity of 7,200 vehicles per day, but 2016 traffic counts show that it was handling 10,100 vehicles per day.

A 2012 traffic count shows that 7,620 vehicles per day were on the road.

“The main problem seems to be the four-way stop signs … at Old Flowery Branch Road,” which is a short distance from Browns Bridge Road, Baker said.

From there, cars back up onto Browns Bridge Road at rush hour and other busy times.

“The other problem is Paul Drive that connects to Browns Bridge Road … is too close to Memorial Park Drive,” Baker said.

Memorial Park Drive traffic

Traffic flows through Memorial Park Drive at Old Flowery Branch Road.

Traffic solutions suggested by Baker included building a roundabout at Memorial Park Drive and Old Flowery Branch Road and closing Paul Drive at Browns Bridge.

The MPO’s Citizens Advisory Committee also has recommended studying “what solutions make the best sense” for Memorial Park Drive, he said.

The Policy Committee, made up of area elected officials, didn’t take any action on the matter at its May 8 meeting.

A project calling for the widening of Ga. 13 and then along Memorial Park Drive to Ga. 369 is listed as an unfunded “aspiration” in the MPO’s Regional Transportation Plan.

At one time, Hall County was looking at extending Memorial Park Drive from Browns Bridge Road to McEver Road. The project was put on hold due to a lack of funding.

Bill Stroud, a longtime resident of nearby Chicopee Village, said he believes Memorial Park Drive’s traffic issue has failed to gain any traction among government officials because “no one will take responsibility for it.”

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Traffic moves through the four-way stop at the intersection of Memorial Park Drive and Old Flowery Branch Road in Gainesville on Friday, June 1, 2018, during heavy rain. Road planners are discussing ways to improve traffic flow at the intersection. - photo by David Barnes
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