Right of way acquisition is set to start this fall on widening part of Cleveland Highway/U.S. 129 in North Hall, Georgia Department of Transportation District Engineer Brent Cook said Thursday.
The stretch being eyed runs from Limestone Parkway to Nopone Road/Jim Hood Road and involves 178 parcels, said Cook, speaking at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual transportation forum at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.
Construction is scheduled in fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1, 2019, he said.
“I know this is a (project) we’ve been talking about for a very, very long time,” Cook told the packed Continuing Education Building auditorium. “We’re finally nearing that opportunity.”
He said the DOT is close to completing designs of the 5.4-mile project, which calls for widening the road from two to four lanes with a 20-foot-wide raised median.
Construction is estimated to cost $58 million, according to the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall area’s lead transportation planning agency.
The project has been in the works for years, with public meetings held as early as May 1998. The last public meeting took place last May.
A long-range project to widen U.S. 129 from Nopone Road/Jim Hood Road to Clarks Bridge Road/Ga. 284 in Clermont from two to four lanes is deemed as an unfunded “aspiration” in the MPO’s Regional Transportation Plan.
Construction of that 5.6-mile stretch has been estimated at $28.9 million.
The DOT also is working on replacing two bridges along U.S. 129 — the Longstreet bridge that crosses the Chattahoochee River arm of Lake Lanier and Bell’s Mill, which crosses the East Fork Little River arm.
Other projects were discussed at the forum, including the long-awaited Spout Springs Road widening in South Hall.
Construction could begin in summer 2019 on a stretch between Hog Mountain Road and Union Circle, with the section open to traffic in the fall of 2021.
Work could begin on the stretch between Union Circle and the Hall-Gwinnett line in 2021, with that stretch opening in 2023.
Also, DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry spoke to the audience about federal funding, including President Donald Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan that includes state, local and federal contributions.
“Based on what’s in the president’s plan, Georgia could compete pretty well,” McMurry said.
“It’s all about leverage. (Special purpose local option sales tax) programs … and Georgia’s increase in transportation funding all bring us to sort of front of the line, in my opinion, as it relates to any discretionary funds that may become available.”