Vilified years ago as a potential Hall County road project, the Northern Connector surfaced again last week — to some degree.
A road spanning North Hall by connecting Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 to Ga. 365 is still off the radar as a project.
But it could be studied in another five years at an estimated $100,000 cost, according to a planning document discussed last week at the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee meeting.
The MPO is the Hall area’s main transportation planning agency and the Policy Committee, comprising top elected officials, is its decision-making arm.
The study was put on the list at the urging of Wayne Stradley, chairman of the MPO’s Citizens Advisory Committee, said Sam Baker, the agency’s transportation planning manager.
As far as the time frame for the study, “we just put it … on the radar,” Baker said.
Stradley said many residents agree that such a road — now being called the North Hall Parkway — is needed.
“Removing congestion and moving large trucks away from the center of Gainesville is in all of our best interests and our grandchildren’s interest,” he said. “This needs to be planned now. Not later.”
A “small sampling” of Hall residents have agreed the project shouldn’t touch the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue and should require bicycle paths and sidewalks, as well as agricultural and residential zoning, Stradley said.
“Maintaining the beauty of North Hall is paramount,” he added.
The project came up as a concept 7 ½ years ago — and was quickly shot down.
At the time, planners considered two primary routes for the road, with both having their western side starting on Ga. 60 near Mount Vernon Road. One route featured the road ending on Ga. 365 at White Sulphur Road and the other at Whitehall Road.
“The importance of why we’re looking at this is the growth that’s going to occur in Hall County,” consultant Jeff Carroll said in 2009.
The proposal ignited the formation of Lake Lanier Community Preservation Association, which opposed the plans.
A few months later, the MPO scrapped the routes as part of it 2040 transportation plan. The citizens group later faded.
The project made a return when the MPO updated its Regional Transportation Plan in 2015.
Placed on a “preliminary aspirations” list, the project calls for a road connecting Ga. 60 to Ga. 365 at a total cost of $227 million.
Hall County officials have long considered some sort of northern bypass — an issue that has gotten more heated recently with public outcry over traffic jams on Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53.
Officials have long proposed the Sardis Road Connector, which would link Dawsonville Highway to Thompson Bridge Road at Mount Vernon Road.
“This, in my opinion, would be the first leg of an eventual connector that we desperately need when it comes to the flow of traffic, especially in and around Gainesville and, more importantly, toward the northern part of Gainesville,” Hall County Planning Director Srikanth Yamala said at a transportation forum last week.
But that fix may not happen for several years.
The connector, which officially has been on the books at least since 2004, is waiting on another major road project, Spout Springs Road widening in South Hall.
“We are still planning on purchasing right of way with funds that we are using for (Spout Springs), upon reimbursement from the Georgia Department of Transportation,” County Engineer Kevin McInturff has said.
“This places the beginning of right of way acquisition for the Sardis Road Connector out a minimum two years from now.”