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Spout Springs Road project moves closer to right-of-way acquisition
Prince of Peace Catholic Church to host public hearing/open house
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Public meeting

What: Spout Springs widening project

When: 4-7 p.m. Feb. 19

Where: Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 6439 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch

Noteworthy: No formal presentation will be given; also, the environmental document on the project will also be available for review 15 days before the hearing.

Hall County is poised to move from one major preliminary phase to another in delivering one of its most long-awaited road projects, the widening of Spout Springs Road in South Hall.

The draft environmental assessment has been approved and officials are awaiting final OK from the Federal Highway Administration, said Jody Woodall, the county’s road projects manager.

To get to that point, however, the county must hold a federally required public hearing/open house, and such a meeting is set for 4-7 p.m. Feb. 19 at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 6439 Spout Springs Road, Flowery Branch.

Residents can expect to see maps showing the “best buildable route, meshing community input from the first (public) meeting with federal environmental law and engineering standards,” said Teri Pope, Georgia Department of Transportation district spokeswoman.

The first public open house on the project took place in December 2012 at the church.

The Feb. 19 meeting “will present the footprint that should closely represent what will be constructed,” Woodall said.

After environmental approval, officials will begin plans for right-of-way acquisition, he said.

Once those plans are approved, officials can “complete appraisals for the property and begin contacting homeowners,” Woodall said, adding “actual offers may still be a little ways off.”

The county’s proposed extension of the special purpose local option sales tax, which goes before voters March 17, includes $20 million for right-of-way purchases for Spout Springs.

“That gives me what I need to start buying,” said Richard Mecum, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners, in a Jan. 5 speech to South Hall Republicans.

“We’ll come from Hog Mountain. ... I’ll get it down as far as I can get it — hopefully to (Flowery Branch High School). That’s the plan at this point.”

The project calls for widening Spout Springs to four lanes between Hog Mountain and Thompson Mill roads, a distance of 6.1 miles. The road, running by schools, churches, homes and businesses, would feature a median and bicycle/pedestrian paths.

Mecum said the county would get reimbursed for right-of-way expenses after it “submits the required documentation to the state and federal government to substantiate the land purchase.”

Hall County has pushed for the widening project for years, as residential and commercial growth has pushed Spout Springs’ traffic capacity beyond its limits.

Evening rush hour can be especially busy, with cars pouring onto the road from Interstate 985, then backing up on mostly two-lane sections until motorists reach their destinations.

Also planned are “operational improvements” from Hog Mountain Road to the I-985 southbound ramps.

The entire project will run about $104 million, Mecum said Saturday in his annual state of the county speech.