Chestatee Road residents Ben and Alice Ash weren’t directly affected by the planned Sardis Connector in northwest Hall County.
But that didn’t stop them from joining the thick crowds gathered for a public information meeting Thursday, Nov. 15, at Chestatee High School.
“We’re just interested in the community,” Alice Ash said. “I thought my sister-in-law might be affected, but she’s not.”
Directly impacted or not, residents filled the school cafeteria to study maps, talk to public officials and submit written comments, which are being accepted until Nov. 29.
Residents gathered en masse around the maps, pointing out homes and landmarks or tracing the route with a finger.
A court reporter also was available to allow the public to make verbal comments about the project. And some residents were particularly verbal, grilling officials with questions.
One person asked County Engineer Kevin McInturff about road studies.
“This road has been studied more than any other road,” McInturff said.
The planned 3.4-mile, four-lane road, which has been discussed for years, would run from Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 in West Hall, starting at the intersection of Sardis and Chestatee roads, to Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 in North Hall, ending near Mount Vernon Road.
But officials believe the project is getting closer to reality.
Right of way acquisition could begin next summer and take two years to complete, engineer Denise Farr has said.
Construction could follow two to three years “after everything is acquired,” she said.
The project could displace 25 homes and three businesses, Farr said.
That number could go up as the county is surveying properties with septic tanks. If the county ends up needing land that might be used for putting in a backup septic system, “then we have to have the house,” she said.
However, “we don’t think that’s going to be much of a problem because we have so much open land,” Farr said.
As for the route itself, the project “would consist of a combination of widening and reconstruction on several existing local roads and roadway construction on new locations,” the project’s legal ad states.
The new connector is targeted to run along existing segments of Sardis Road, Fran Mar Drive, Brackett Drive, Ladd Drive, Ledan Road and Southers Road.
The route “may vary some, especially if we find environmentally sensitive areas, graves we didn’t know about or historical markers,” Farr said. “But at this time, we feel like this is the general area that the route is going to take.”
Area resident Vicki Lester is a little more skeptical of the project coming to fruition.
“They’ll never do it,” she said. “We’ve been waiting since 2007.”