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Spout Springs Road traffic worsens as fixes remain years away
Widening is in DOT plans but considered long range
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Traffic flows Wednesday on Spout Springs Road at Hog Mountain Road in Flowery Branch. Hall County staff hope to start buying right-of-way next year to eventually widen Spout Springs Road between Interstate 985 and Thompson Mill Road. - photo by Erin O. Smith

If you think traffic has doubled over the past 10 years on Spout Springs Road in South Hall County, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

The Georgia Department of Transportation reports an average of 8,350 cars per day in 2005 south of Ivy Springs Drive, compared to 15,000 in 2014.

That’s just one traffic counter on the two-lane road, but its number — along with those of other counters on Spout Springs — is sure to rise, as residential and commercial development continues.

The good news: A $60 million project to ease congestion is in the works. The bad news: It could be years before the first dirt is turned.

Fred Young, who has lived on Union Circle, one of Spout Springs’ primary side streets, for 12 years, can testify to the increase in traffic and its impact on his driving habits.

“At certain times, it’s almost impossible to get (onto Spout Springs),” he said. “Matter of fact, it would be (impossible) unless someone stops to let you out.”

The road is a primary artery connecting Flowery Branch to Braselton. Over the years, retail centers have sprung up on either end of the road while homes and subdivisions, along with churches and schools, have filled in the gaps.

And there’s more growth on the way.

Grading is well underway on two new sections of the 1,000-acre Sterling on the Lake subdivision in Flowery Branch, adding 115 homes, said Jennifer Landers, operations vice president with Newland Communities.

“We’re going to open those for sale next spring,” she said.

Since its opening in 2005, Newland has closed on about 1,000 of the subdivision’s 2,000 homes, Landers said.

The growth has had an effect on driving patterns.

“There are several back roads you can take to avoid the traffic,” she said, noting that a lot of residents take Blackjack Road to Hog Mountain Road, which leads to Spout Springs.

Another developer, Century Communities, is proposing a 158-lot subdivision off Spout Springs Road near Quincy Drive.

At its meeting last Monday, the Hall County Planning Commission delayed action until Jan. 19 on a rezoning measure that would give the developer the go-ahead on the subdivision. Final OK rests with the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

Also, a major road that feeds into Spout Springs in Braselton — newly widened Friendship Road/Ga. 347 — is slated for completion in January.

South Hall resident Bob Gillespie faces Spout Springs traffic constantly, as he lives in Reunion subdivision and works at his insurance agency off Williams Road. Reunion is off Spout Springs and Friendship Road, and Williams connects Spout Springs to Friendship.

While the heavy traffic may be good for his business, it’s not always good for getting to and fro.

“It is what is it — it’s horrible,” Gillespie said.

Road improvements “are something that should have been done two years ago,” he said. “It’s going to be nice when it’s done, but until then, it’s going to be a big waiting period.”

Hall County is making some strides on plans to widen Spout Springs to four lanes from two between Interstate 985 in Flowery Branch to Thompson Mill Road in Braselton.

The Federal Highway Administration is expected to approve an environmental document related to the project in December. That would draw Hall closer to begin buying needed property for the project, maybe as soon as 2016.

Under an agreement with the DOT, Hall would be reimbursed for right-of-way costs — initially, $20 million, with the money being fronted by special purpose local option sales tax revenues.

One snag: The DOT’s schedule has it reimbursing Hall in 2019, “so we’ve got to sit down with the DOT to make sure that if we start buying right of way, we’re going to get that back,” said Ken Rearden, Hall’s public works director.

Just buying the needed property — much of which sits right on Spout Springs — will take a couple of years to complete, he said.

As for construction, it “is in long range, not scheduled,” said Teri Pope, DOT district spokeswoman.

The work can’t come some enough for residents such as Young, who has kept tabs on the project.

“It seems to be dragging like a snail going up the road,” he said.

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