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Planning is in works for Howard Road traffic signal
DOT working with Gainesville, RaceTrac
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The Georgia Department of Transportation and RaceTrac are working on plans for an improved Ga. 365 crossing at Howard Road, but no time frame has been set yet for the work.

That will be set once designs and permitting have been completed, Gainesville-based spokeswoman Teri Pope said this week.

A Clayton woman died in an April 24 crash at the intersection, triggering public outcry over safety in that area and a written appeal by the Hall County Board of Commissioners that the DOT make improvements there.

In a letter, the commissioners cited 14 crashes in that area so far in 2012.

And Gov. Nathan Deal’s Chief of Staff Chris Riley and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Harris Blackwood expressed concerns about the intersection to DOT Commissioner Keith Golden.

Pope said on April 27 that the state would meet with local officials this week to move forward on the changes, which include a traffic signal and flashing yellow beacon lights warning motorists about the upcoming intersection.

The DOT had planned flashing yellow lights and new lane striping, but no signal. A study of the intersection had shown it did not meet any of the thresholds for installing a signal.

RaceTrac gas station, which sits at that intersection, also has entered the discussion.

“The safety of our guests and team members is very important to us, so we strongly support the installation of a traffic light,” said RaceTrac’s Cindy Erfurt, engineering project manager, in a statement Thursday.

“Our engineers are currently updating the traffic warrant analysis to determine the appropriate upgrades. The plan is for RaceTrac to handle the design and permitting for the project.

“We’re also reaching out to other adjacent property owners at the intersection who might be interested in helping with the improvements.”

The DOT is also working with the city of Gainesville on the project.

“It is a collaborative effort ... and will continue to be,” Pope said.

The Gainesville Police Department spent Tuesday mapping an area at the intersection as part of the ongoing crash investigation.

Michael and Anna Hermansen of Clayton were heading south on Ga. 365 in a 2006 maroon Kia Sorento when a green 2000 Toyota Corolla, driven by Martha Chatman of Lula, tried to cross Ga. 365 from the RaceTrac gas station on Howard Road, Gainesville police said.

Anna Hermansen was a passenger and was pronounced dead after being taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Michael Hermansen, airlifted from the scene, remains in critical condition at Grady Memorial Hospital, according to Gainesville police.

“There is nothing new with the investigation at this time,” said Kevin Holbrook, Gainesville police spokesman. “There is still a lot of footwork to be done.

“The investigators will review all the evidence and present it to the solicitor and district attorney for review to determine if any charges will be filed.”

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