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Road conditions study gives Flowery Branch officials plenty to think about
Hall County has completed an inventory and rating system of Flowery Branch’s roads. Gainesville Street has been rated as the city’s worst road. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Gainesville Street may look like a peaceful drive between McEver and Lights Ferry roads, passing pastures, thick oak trees and quaint homes.

But the 1.4-mile section of the Flowery Branch road ranks as having the worst road conditions in the South Hall city, according to a recently completed review of roads by Hall County.

The review, conducted to determine which roads are in the most need of repair, was based on several criteria, including pavement condition and type of road (primary route, for example).

“The section from McEver to Chattahoochee Street ... is narrow, but it’s certainly not in bad shape,” said Gainesville Street resident Chris Worl, reacting to the study.

“The part that’s really bad would be that (section) from Main Street to Lights Ferry — that’s a single lane ... and it is pretty bad.”
The reason for the road inventory is so that Flowery Branch can create a long-term road maintenance plan.

“It’s the sense of capital budgeting over time, to see how many miles of roads we might want to schedule for paving through a five-year plan,” City Manager Bill Andrew said. “We’re sort of hoping the next phase of this will be to identify a certain number of miles or feet of road to be paved and try to work with the county to be part of whatever bid they put out,” he added.

That way, “we get the benefit of the bulk purchase, and that helps (the county) to have that also,” Andrew said.

City officials were “real pleased with the (county’s) work,” he added. “They really did go beyond what we anticipated.”

“It was a very thorough, detailed job,” said City Planner James Riker.

County officials provided ratings for dozens of roads, breaking down certain ones into sections.

Gainesville Street, for example, is divided into two sections, with the other segment a one-way stretch between Lights Ferry and Jones Road. That section is ranked as the city’s ninth worst road.

“Jones Road, in a vacuum, is probably worse than any of these (roads), but because it doesn’t have a lot of traffic on it, it doesn’t rank as high,” Andrew said.

Jones is a 12-foot-wide road that connects Gainesville Street, also 12 feet wide, to two-lane Mitchell Street. The road ties into the vast Tide Water Cove subdivision.

The city is looking at ways to fix Jones, including converting part of it to one way and slightly widening part of it.

“We have no doubt that if you drove down many of these roads, you wish they were freshly paved and striped and had appropriate shoulders,” Riker said.

“What this (index) can do is help (City Council) prioritize where they can spend money. ... It makes the (improvement) process far less arbitrary.”

The city is developing a capital improvement plan, including roads, that likely will factor into the city’s fiscal 2011 budget, which takes effect July 1.

A public hearing on the budget and utility rates is set for May 20, with a vote on the entire budget set for June 3.

Jody Woodall, Hall County road projects manager, said Hall County has a resurfacing package that features 24 miles of roads.

“We’ll begin patching work in a month or so and getting ready for the (resurfacing) work to be done late summer to fall,” he said.

“We will get with Flowery Branch to see if they want to participate in that. We’ve done it with some of the other municipalities.”

The project would go out for bids in June or July.

Flowery Branch City Council “would just have to look at their finances and see if they’d be able to participate at this time,” Woodall said.

The city, which has a $30,000 budget this year for road improvements, also is considering the results of another study, conducted by Norcross engineering firm Pond & Co., of downtown transportation needs.

A draft of the study shows the city would have to spend close to $7.5 million for a slate of new roads, intersection and road fixes, and pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

The study area stretches from McEver Road in the north to Mulberry Street in the south, encompassing the town’s older portions, particularly downtown.

The study recommends several high-dollar fixes to those issues, including extending Lights Ferry Road to Snelling Avenue at an estimated cost of $632,500.

Andrew has said that regardless of how Flowery Branch moves forward on the study results, “the city is going to have to get serious about a more well-funded road program.”

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