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South Hall may get traffic relief
Turn lanes, signal light could be headed to Spout Springs Road
0827spout
Roger and Shirley Moore walk up their driveway Wednesday at the intersection of Spout Springs Road and Elizabeth Lane. - photo by Tom Reed

0827SPOUTaud

Listen to Jody Woodall, Hall County’s road projects manager, talk about possible future improvements on Spout Springs Road.

A four-lane Spout Springs Road won’t be realized for some time, but Hall County officials are hoping some less-extreme improvements will bring motorists some relief in the meantime.

The top priority is fixing traffic at Elizabeth Lane, which leads to one of the two entrances to the new Flowery Branch High School. The other entrance is off Spout Springs.

"We have seen a significant amount of traffic increase there," said Jody Woodall, county road projects manager.

The school year opened earlier this month with traffic jamming in front of the school, backing up in either direction on the two-lane Spout Springs.

Rapid commercial and residential growth in South Hall during the past decade has produced a similar rise in traffic on Spout Springs, which connects Flowery Branch to Braselton and crosses Interstate 985.

"We have a commitment from the Georgia Department of Transportation for a widening project, but it is some years down the road," Woodall said. "We haven’t started the concept design or any of that yet."

Meanwhile, the county is completing a study to determine whether to build a traffic light at Elizabeth Lane. With that work could come some other improvements to the intersection.

"We’re designing (the project) right now and planning to move with it as soon as possible," Woodall said, adding that he wasn’t sure when it could be done. "We’ll have to do some right-of-way acquisition."

The county’s 1 cent sales tax program would pay for all the improvements.

The county also is looking at adding a center turn lane between Union Circle and Elizabeth with dedicated left turns into Flowery Branch High and Spout Springs Elementary schools, which sit diagonally from each other along the stretch.

"I believe that any road improvements ... would help with everyone’s safety," said Mark Coleman, Flowery Branch High’s principal.

"I do believe that if a traffic signal is installed on Elizabeth Lane, there should be a consideration of the dismissal times of Spout Springs Elementary and (Flowery Branch High) to allow plenty of time for the buses to exit their campuses and not have to sit in traffic waiting on light changes."

Steven McDaniel, Spout Springs’ principal, shared those sentiments, saying he believes those issues will be looked at carefully.

Otherwise, though, he said, "I’ve been real pleased with the way the school year has gotten off to a real smooth start in terms of traffic flow."

Roger Moore, who has lived off Spout Springs at Elizabeth Lane since 1963, said that despite the growth — and he and his wife have seen plenty over the years — traffic is bearable.

"We just take our time," he said. "It’s heavy at times during school hours and work hours, but you know when to go and when not to."

Moore said he favors a traffic light at Elizabeth Lane.

"The kids use that road when they go into their parking (at the high school). They’re inexperienced drivers and there is a chance for them to make a mistake (turning onto Spout Springs)," he said. "You’ve got to watch traffic both ways and you’ve got to be patient."

County officials also are looking at adding a lane on Spout Springs just east of Hog Mountain Road.

Woodall said several businesses there have deceleration lanes going into their property.

Those lanes "would become another through lane and we would come in and reinstall the (deceleration) lanes," he said. "That should help move more vehicles through that (traffic) signal during peak hours."

Another improvement being looked at is possible left-turn lanes into subdivisions at Ivy Springs and Oak Ridge drives, Woodall said.

One improvement being given lower priority is widening Spout Springs by 2 feet on either side.

"Right now, statistics show very few accidents where people are running off the road," Woodall said.

Larger efforts, such as straightening curves and changing grades in the road, would be considered as part of the four-lane widening, he said.

And while that effort is far from reality, the project isn’t completely off the radar.

"I think we’re going to start look at concept development ... very soon," Woodall said.

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