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Road planners recommend Martin Road traffic study in wake of I-985 interchange
Hall County transportation planning officials are recommending a Martin Road traffic study with work possibly starting next year on an interchange off Martin at Interstate 985.

The mostly residential Martin Road in South Hall County could get a closer look as the Georgia Department of Transportation draws closer to building an interchange off Martin at Interstate 985.

A road planning group within the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hall’s lead transportation planning agency, voted Wednesday to recommend a study of the road, which connects Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 to Winder Highway/Ga. 53.

The study would look at traffic impacts to Martin that could result from the interchange project but also in a larger context of other South Hall projects underway or in the works — such as a widening of Spout Springs Road.

Then, from there, possible improvements could be offered, such as road realignments.

The vote came after the group, comprising engineers, planners and other government officials, heard from one of the interchange project’s most vocal opponents, Brad Farrow of the Martin Road Association.

“We’re willing to work with you in any way we can,” Farrow said. “We really have no choice, it seems. But we’re still opposed to Exit 14. We don’t believe it’s needed and that it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

The recommendation would go to the MPO’s decision-making policy committee, which is made up of top elected officials in Hall.

The $27 million diamond interchange has been in the works for years, with officials saying construction could start in 2017.

It was the focus of a March 8 Georgia DOT public hearing that drew 130 people studying maps and talking to engineers.

Farrow was one of the attendees, handing out fliers citing concerns about the project, which would link Martin Road at Falcon Parkway east of I-985 to H.F. Reed Industrial Parkway at Thurmon Tanner Parkway west of I-985.

His main worry is the new interchange will overload Martin Road with traffic.

Ken Rearden, Hall County’s public works and utilities director, said truck traffic is banned on Martin Road and “it’s my understanding that, as this interchange gets built, that road is still going to be listed as no-through (for) trucks.”

“Trucks will need to go on Atlanta Highway and then (go east) on Winder Highway,” Rearden said.

Falcon Parkway becomes Atlanta Highway heading north into Oakwood.

Truck traffic “has been a main concern of a lot of the residents,” Farrow said.

“We’re going to police it as best we can, I think, to make sure there are no trucks are on that road until it’s capable of handling trucks,” Rearden said. “It’s not capable of handling trucks now.”