FLOWERY BRANCH — Plans for a four-lane Spout Springs Road in South Hall went on public display for the first time Thursday night.
More than 300 people attended a public information open house at Prince of Peace Catholic Church for a host of reasons, including seeing how their property would be affected and whether their neighborhood would get a median break.
And reactions varied, as well.
“I’m excited about the project,” Darron Ripley, who has property off Christy Lane. “The road needs (widening) and the property we bought can be assembled to have (Spout Springs) frontage for potential commercial (uses).”
Not so pleased was George Hasaka, who said he didn’t see a particular need for the widened road.
“Who determined there was going to be such a traffic flow on this road and on Thompson Mill to create these projects?” he said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation and Hall County held the meeting at the church at 6439 Spout Springs Road as a way to introduce project plans to the public.
Residents huddled around maps that lined walls of the church narthex, studying the route and asking engineers questions.
A court reporter was on hand to take comments, but residents also could submit comments and questions in writing.
Spout Springs Road has been a major focus for the county for the past decade, especially as population boomed in the area and commercial growth began to take place on the Flowery Branch and Braselton ends of the mostly two-lane road.
Some minor improvements have been made over the years, including left-turn lanes in high-traffic areas, such as around Spout Springs Elementary and Flowery Branch High schools.
Plans call for Spout Springs, which is mostly two lanes, to be widened between Hog Mountain Road in Flowery Branch and Thompson Mill Road in Braselton.
According to Hall’s 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the project could take place between 2018 and 2030.
In 2011, when the project was set as part of the 2040 plan, the estimated total cost was $44.8 million. The inflation-adjusted estimate in that 12-year time frame is $58.3 million.
Already under way is a DOT project to widen Ga. 347/Friendship Road between Interstate 985 and Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway.
Ga. 347 will be six lanes between Spout Springs and Ga. 211 and is being built first so it will coincide with construction of Northeast Georgia Medical Center Braselton, which will be at the corner of the new road and Ga. 211.
“I think what’s driving the whole (road) expansion is the building of the hospital,” said Hasaka, chairman of the advisory committee for Reunion Country Club.
Reunion is one of the largest subdivisions in the area, with entrances off Thompson Mill and Spout Springs roads.
Teri Pope, the DOT’s spokeswoman for District 1, which covers Northeast Georgia, including Hall, said many people showed up for Thursday night’s public information open house were asking about the Friendship Road project.
“A lot of people who have moved here since we held the (Friendship Road) public meeting ... and they see the clearing happening,” she said.