By a large show of hands, Martin Road residents gave their approval Tuesday night to an alternative to a much-despised widening of the South Hall road — one that could include a roundabout and stop signs.
“We can’t always get everything we want, but this is a really good compromise to resolve most of the issues that we had — safety being the No. 1,” resident Dan White told a group gathered at Mulberry Creek Community Center.
Residents initially banded together in opposition to the $27 million diamond interchange that would connect Martin Road at Falcon Parkway/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, which could carry heavy traffic — especially trucks — past their neighborhoods.
Martin Road is mostly residential as it runs from Ga. 13 to Winder Highway/Ga. 53.
The alternative plan 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.
Darlene Long, who has led the residents group in discussing the matter with the county, has said she believes the alternative “is probably the most economical (option) and the one that made (the most) sense.”
“We were looking for something that could be done quickly and solve the (traffic) problem,” she said.
Residents had some concerns about the roundabout, but officials said it still was just a concept — not a sure thing.
Hall County Commissioner Billy Powell told residents that a roundabout is expected to greatly improve the busy Ledan Road-Sardis Road intersection in northwest Hall.
“If there’s any way this decision (about the Martin plans) can get fast-tracked and this (roundabout) is what everybody wants to do, then perhaps we could piggyback off that (Ledan-Sardis) contract,” Powell said.
The process could go quicker, he added, if affected property owners donated right of way.
Otherwise, the interchange work could be the first road construction residents will see in the area, as a Georgia Department of Transportation official said at a roads planning meeting last week that bids for the project could go out in June.
To move forward, the alternative plans would have to be approved by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee. The MPO is the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency, and the Policy Committee is its decision-making arm.