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More work planned for Howard Road area
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Just because a traffic light was installed at Howard Road and Ga. 365 in Gainesville doesn’t mean other potential improvements in that heavily traveled area have fallen off the radar.

“Staff is reviewing several options to improve the road and to access the business park near White Sulphur and Ramsey (roads),” said Dee Taylor, traffic engineer for the city of Gainesville.

“We’re possibly looking at a truck route and (that) kind of thing up through the area.

“Nothing is set in stone — it’s basically all conceptual — and we’re looking at how much it’s going to cost and if there are any (funding) avenues, as with a grant that can help the city and county in making the project a reality.”

The Howard Road intersection had been a public concern for a while, but an April 28 crash that killed a Clayton woman triggered a public campaign — including from Gov. Nathan Deal’s office — to fix the crossing.

Gainesville, the Georgia Department of Transportation and RaceTrac convenience store, which sits at the intersection, were involved in installing a traffic light — work that was completed in October.

The intersection also features pedestrian crossings, which, according to DOT, is a federal requirement.

Because the surrounding area, including up to Ramsey Road just north of Howard, is highly industrial, area officials have expressed concerns about tractor-trailer and automobile traffic in the area.

Gainesville and Hall County have joined in an effort to examine other possible fixes.

As part of the endeavor, Gainesville firm Moreland Altobelli Associates has been contracted to study a possible realignment of Howard Road from Ga. 365 to White Sulphur Road.

“We have been working with property owners up there to realign this road and shape the grade where big trucks (from area industries) can get up and down safer than what’s there now,” said Ken Rearden, Hall’s public works director, at a Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting in November.

Other options, Taylor said, include “just improving the existing intersection, realigning the intersection or doing some selective widening of the existing travel lanes — not increasing the number, but beefing up the road, so to speak.”

DOT is designing a new southbound acceleration lane from Ramsey Road to Ga. 365, said Teri Pope, District 1 spokeswoman for the agency.

The new 1,000-foot lane will be geared toward motorists, including truck drivers, turning south on Ga. 365 from Ramsey Road and “will be on the outside of the existing lane,” she said.

DOT maintenance crews would build the lane sometime between March and November, Pope said.

Kubota Manufacturing of America Co. at 2715 Ramsey Road has asked the DOT to study the Ramsey Road intersection, which sits just north of Howard Road, for possible improvements.

Kubota, which builds tractors and heavy equipment, has more than 1,000 employees, and “we get about 80 tractor-trailer loads a day,” said Phil Sutton, chief administrative officer at Kubota, who personally has collected data regarding truck and car traffic.

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