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Some Gainesville road projects in master plan taking shape early
Turn lane work on Jesse Jewell among top priorities
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Traffic waits on the light to change as trucks make a left turn onto E.E. Butler Parkway from Jesse Jewell Parkway on Friday. Preliminary work is beginning on some key Gainesville roads projects, particularly right turn lanes off Jesse Jewell Parkway and Browns Bridge Road and a study of what is underneath Green Street. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Some early work is beginning on some key Gainesville roads projects, as part of a city transportation master plan completed nearly two years ago.

Particularly, city officials still are planning turn lane work on Ga. 369/Jesse Jewell Parkway/Browns Bridge Road, fixes at Jesse Jewell and Queen City and John Morrow parkways, and a study of what lies underneath Green Street’s driving surface.

“We’ve got some grant money, and we’re just trying to put our money where our mouth is,” Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said.

He is referring specifically to plans on Ga. 369 to extend the northbound right-turn lane at E.E. Butler Parkway, building a southbound right-turn lane at West End Avenue and building a northbound right-turn lane at Auburn Avenue.

The work should help relieve traffic on Ga. 369, a major artery cutting through the heart of Gainesville.

Engineers are now working on the project, which could start next summer at the earliest, Public Works Director David Dockery said.

“These projects, especially if they involve state routes, have a very lengthy approval process,” he said.

Gainesville got money for the work from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which was established in 2008 by the General Assembly and is administered by the State Road and Tollway Authority.

The Ga. 369 project isn’t “a major transportation infrastructure project, but it was one that qualified for grant funding,” Dockery said. “We just picked some low-hanging fruit to get started on the (master plan).”

The master plan features a load of projects involving road widenings and other improvements, as well as new construction, through 2040.

Another major project is turn lanes at Jesse Jewell and Queen City and John Morrow parkways — something that had been proposed under the failed 1-cent transportation sales tax vote in July 2012.

City staff met two weeks ago with the Georgia Department of Transportation “on the financials of that project,” Dockery said.

Work at the intersection would involve federal funding, which means a “very particular process that has to be followed,” he said. “It could be a couple of years before it comes to fruition.” Another longtime major traffic concern is four-lane Green Street, which, especially during weekdays, is packed in both directions.

In past years, the city has pondered several options for relieving traffic along the historic stretch, including banning left turns.

Gainesville is working with the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Hall area’s chief road planning agency, on the project, which would involve studying the road’s asphalt depths and drainage issues.

The city is looking to hire an engineering firm for the project, Dockery said.

“We haven’t found many (firms) that have expressed a real desire to do the kind of work that we’re asking done on that,” he said. “We’re asking (them) to do somewhat unique work there, just because of the historic nature of that corridor.

“The utilities and technology have come and gone, and everybody knows water drainage is an issue there. ... It’s going to be a pretty comprehensive study just to give us an idea of what we’re dealing with there.”

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