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New Martin Road traffic plan emerges
Proposal features center turn lane, roundabout, nixes widening of South Hall road
Martin Road residents worry that the new Interstate 985 interchange project may overload the mostly residential stretch of road with traffic. A new plan has emerged that nixes widening in favor of other solutions.

Martin Road Stakeholder Committee

What: Discussion of new alternative to widening Martin Road in South Hall

When: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Mulberry Creek Community Center, 4491 JM Turk Road

Area road planners now are looking at ditching the highly contested widening of Martin Road in South Hall in favor of other fixes along the road, including a possible roundabout and stop signs.

A committee within the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the area’s lead transportation planning agency, recommended the change at a meeting earlier this week.

Such a move would please residents.

“It is probably the most economical (option) and the one that made (the most) sense,” said Darlene Long, who has led a group of Martin Road residents in discussing the matter with the county.

“We were looking for something that could be done quickly and solve the (traffic) problem.”

The plan is set to be considered for approval May 2 by the MPO’s Policy Committee, a group of top elected officials making up the agency’s decision-making arm.

It also will be discussed when officials meet Tuesday with a committee of Martin Road residents charged with giving input as part of a countywide freight study, which is set for completion in December.

“The Martin Road (widening) alternative, developed in coordination with the Martin Road Stakeholder Committee, will be presented in detail, and will include the process for this alternative,” states an email from Sam Baker, the MPO’s transportation planning manager, describing the meeting with residents.

The alternative calls for “No trucks allowed” signs at Martin Road and Ga. 13 and Martin at Ga. 53, a possible center turn lane on Martin between Ga. 13 and JM Turk Road and a roundabout at Martin and JM Turk Road.

Also proposed are a three-way stop sign at Martin and Quailwood Drive and a four-way stop sign at Martin Road, Martin Trail and Martins Crossing.

The work would be done to help ease the crunch of traffic flowing off a new Interstate 985 interchange planned off Martin Road at Ga. 13, or Exit 14.

Martin Road is mostly residential as it travels between Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 and Winder HIghway/Ga. 53.

“We are very thrilled with the progress that has been made” in coming up with the alternative, Long said Friday. “It’s been a long year following this process through.”

Residents initially banded together in opposition to the $27 million diamond interchange that 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.

But they also were opposed to the long-range plans to widen Martin Road.

The interchange work could be the first road construction residents will see in the area, as a Georgia Department of Transportation official said at the MPO meeting this week that bids for the project could go out in June.

“Exit 14 is a done deal, we understand that,” Long said. “We just want to … keep our community residential.”

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