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Residents group to explore potential North Hall Parkway
0428CONNECTOR
Wayne Stradley, right, talks to a citizens transportation group Thursday about residents studying a potential roadway spanning North Hall County.

Not waiting for some traffic study to plot out potential routes, a residents group is pushing ahead with a look of its own at a potential roadway crossing North Hall.

“A lot of these studies don’t go out and interview people,” said Wayne Stradley, one of the group’s members. “They don’t drive out to see what (a potential route) looks like.”

He added: “We can’t stop growth in this county, but we at least should have some control of it.”

The group will serve as a subcommittee of the larger Citizens Advisory Committee in the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall area’s main transportation planning agency.

The advisory committee gave its OK Thursday for the subcommittee to explore the possibility of what’s been dubbed the North Hall Parkway.

“Hopefully, we’re going to come up with some good, common-sense ideas,” Stradley said.

“These (studies) were done by people who don’t live here, who don’t know what’s important to people here,” said Renee Gerrell, another subcommittee member. “Our goal … is to try to come up with a plan that will be amenable to most people and have a higher likelihood of support and success.”

A project known as the Northern Connector 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 Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 near Mount Vernon Road. One route featured the road ending on Ga. 365 at White Sulphur Road and the other on Ga. 365 at Whitehall Road.

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.

One Citizens Advisory Committee member, Jim Brown, said he applauded the idea of a grassroots look at the North Hall Parkway, but residents need to remember to take future growth into account.

“You want to think about how fast this place is growing,” he said.

At Thursday’s committee meeting, comparisons were made to the Martin Road community’s pushback over a proposed widening of Martin Road from Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 to Winder Highway/Ga. 53.

The widening tied in with a planned new Interstate 985 interchange at Martin, talked about long before mostly residential growth mushroomed along Martin.

After about a year of talks between residents and the county, an alternative is being pushed that takes the widening off the table and replaces it with other fixes, such as roundabout and stop signs.

“We want to make sure that once we come up with a plan, and it’s established, that land isn’t zoned to do things that are contrary to the proposed plan,” Gerrell said.

“If we can identify a route that people can get behind early enough, then we can ensure that things are not built in the pathway that are going to cause resistance as we get closer to wanting to purchase right of way and pursue a project.”

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