What: Discussion of proposed alternatives to Martin Road widening in South Hall
When: 5-7 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 JM Turk Road
Hall County has developed alternatives to widening Martin Road at the planned new interchange on Interstate 985 in South Hall, or Exit 14.
One option calls for leaving Martin Road as a two-lane road and in the direct path of Exit 14 traffic.
But the other, likely more palatable options call for realigning Martin so that it dead-ends away from the interchange, effectively taking the mostly residential road out of the way of traffic getting off I-985.
Officials plan to present the alternatives at a Martin Road Corridor Study Stakeholder Committee meeting set for Wednesday at the Mulberry Creek Community Center, located at 4491 JM Turk Road.
Sam Baker of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall County’s lead transportation planning agency, sent an email describing the alternatives last week to committee members.
“The project team has developed alternatives which will improve safety and mobility for the Martin Road/JM Turk area,” Baker said. “Once again, these alternatives are based upon the information we received from a survey circulated, in paper and online formats, after the first meeting.”
The options call for realigning Martin Road so that it connects to Ga. 13 and/or Hog Mountain Road south of Martin Road’s current connection at Ga. 13.
In each case, improvements to the JM Turk intersection would be made and “the existing section of Martin Road which connects to Atlanta Highway (would) become a cul-de-sac just northwest of the (Hall County) fire station driveway,” Baker said.
Meanwhile, an option developed by area residents and presented at the committee’s first meeting on Nov. 2 appears less favored by the county.
The option calls for realigning Ga. 13 between Hog Mountain Road and Pauline Drive.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has told county officials that the interchange project will go to bids later this year and that realigning Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13, at this point, “is not possible,” Baker said.
The $27 million diamond interchange would connect Martin Road at Ga. 13 on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.
The project, which has been in the works for a decade or longer, has drawn huge opposition from residents over the past year, along with long-range plans to widen Martin Road from Ga. 13 to Winder Highway/Ga. 53.
The citizens committee was formed in a larger sense to weigh in on a regional freight study set to be completed in December.
“The Martin Road community is looking forward to viewing the alternate routes,” resident Darlene Long said by email last week.
“Even though a stakeholder committee has been designated to guide decisions, we extend an invitation to our entire community to help us solve this problem. Our community is nestled between two exits off of I-985. It has ample and safe access to major intersections, our schools, shopping centers and local businesses.”
She added that Martin Road “should not be designated as a freight corridor because of the huge safety risks it would bring and the wedge it would drive through our area."
Gina Pilcher, who presented the residents’ alternative at the November meeting, said she believes “all of the committee members will have questions for (the county) and the consultants” about the alternatives.
“I do not think it is reasonable for (officials) to ask anyone to make a decision about the alternatives at this meeting,” she said.