Exit 14 public hearing
What: New Interstate 985 interchange planned in South Hall County
When: 5-8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science, 4216 Martin Road, Flowery Branch
Residents will be able to study maps and share thoughts with engineers about the planned Exit 14 off Interstate 985 during a public hearing Tuesday in South Hall County.
The project, which could go to construction in 2017, calls for a new diamond interchange linking Martin Road at Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 east of I-985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway at Thurmon Tanner Parkway west of I-985.
“We would like to hear the viewpoints and concerns of all area residents," DOT District Engineer Brent Cook said.
The $26 million project calls for construction of a four-lane road with 4-foot bike lanes on each side, 12-foot shoulders and a 5-foot sidewalk.
“This project is intended to provide direct access to I-985 for the traffic generated by the existing and proposed development along (existing roads),” including McEver Road, according to the DOT.
Much of the area seems primed for development.
In 2014, Oakwood approved a rezoning that would allow 302 homes on 123 acres, including 20 acres for commercial development, off Ga. 13 and north of Martin Road.
Another sign of growth: In January, Flowery Branch City Council approved a rezoning that enabled an $8 million private business expansion off Thurmon Tanner Parkway.
Overall, the new exit is expected to “improve the flow of traffic between the interchange area and the large industrial developments located between … Flowery Branch and Oakwood by providing convenient and efficient access to I-985,” states a DOT news release.
H.F. Reed leads to a heavily industrial area, while Martin Road travels past homes and subdivisions to another major traffic artery, Winder Highway/Ga. 53, which leads to Interstate 85.
Also, the DOT states, the project would improve emergency response and provide “windows of opportunity for economic development in the area.”
“The Georgia DOT strongly believes that since this project is intended to serve the people of Hall County, the ideas and preferences of these people are important,” Cook said.
“It’s a long, long-awaited project, and we’re excited to see it move to this phase,” Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said.
He said the project represents “the final piece” in a string of Oakwood road projects that includes the DOT’s rebuilding of Exit 16 and H.F. Reed’s construction between McEver and Thurmon Tanner.
The new interchange also may provide some relief to Exit 12’s Spout Springs Road, a busy two-lane road between Flowery Branch and Braselton. Construction may be years away on widening Spout Springs.