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Spout Springs project bumped to No. 2 on priority list
Cars drive Tuesday evening on Sprout Springs road in Flowery Branch. Widening Spout Springs has been ranked the No. 2 project in a revised long-range transportation plan for Gainesville-Hall County. - photo by ALISON L. MARCHMAN

Transportation planners have reshuffled priorities in a long-range plan for Gainesville-Hall County, now making Spout Springs Road widening its No. 2 project.

Moving the project up from No. 44 on a preliminary list reflects “both the enthusiastic community support for it and its relative readiness with preliminary engineering and right-of-way dollars committed,” said Sam I. Baker, senior transportation planner for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.

He was commenting in a Monday memo to the MPO’s technical coordinating committee, a group of area engineers, planners and other government officials.

County officials have long regarded fixes to the ever-clogged Spout Springs as a top priority, with Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Mecum trying unsuccessfully in May to get the MPO to make the project a top priority.

“It’s desperately needed today,” he said at the time.

At an Oct. 15 meeting of the technical coordinating committee, Baker said he believed one of the most critical projects was the Spout Springs widening.

Several committee members said they saw the widening of Ga. 211/Old Winder Highway, which checked in at No. 1 on the initial list, as a worthy endeavor, especially as it leads to a fast-developing area in South Hall, but maybe not fitting in the top spot.

The project now ranks No. 6.

Officials now regard as No. 1 the widening of Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road from Ga. 136/Price Road to Yellow Creek Road in Murrayville. It moved up from No. 7.

Another project that has stirred past debate in the community is the Northern Connector, a road connecting Ga. 60 to Ga. 365. The project has moved down in priority, from No. 12 to 31.

“We have received somewhat inconsistent feedback on the community’s support for this project,” Baker said in his memo.

“The commentary we have received is mostly positive, but we have currently scored this project lower ... for public support due to a few non-positive comments. This scoring directly affects the likelihood of the project ending up in the fiscally constrained plan.”

Officials are updating the long-range plan now in place, with completion set for August 2015 and projected expenses matching projected revenues as a key mission.

The updated road priority list doesn’t yet break down into short-term, midterm and long-term categories, as it does in the current long-range plan.

But Baker said such a “tiered project list is being developed and will be provided” to the technical coordinating committee by Monday.

A special meeting of the committee has been set for 10:30 a.m. Oct. 30 at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville.

The group will decide at that meeting whether to recommend approval of the priority-setting methodology and project list to the policy committee, the MPO’s decision-making body comprising top elected officials in Hall and Jackson counties.

The MPO region serves Hall County and West Jackson, including Braselton.

A public meeting on the preliminary list of projects has been set for 5:30-7 p.m. Nov. 6 at the government center.

Initial road projects ranking
Updated roads project ranking