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State money sought in road project near North Hall schools
Hall County is seeking a state grant to make improvements at Jim Hood and Odum Smallwood roads near Mount Vernon Exploratory School in North Hall.

Hall County is seeking state money to help improve safe travel at an intersection near Mount Vernon Exploratory School in North Hall.

“This project would alleviate traffic demands on important (area roads),” officials say in an application seeking funding. “With elementary, middle and high schools in that area, safety and accessibility is a concern.”

Officials particularly note that “heavy school bus and parent pickup and drop-off traffic creates severe congestion … due to lack of dedicated turn lanes on the county roadways.

“Lines of cars, buses and commercial vehicles clog the roadway in the morning and afternoon hours, causing congestion and safety concerns.”

Plans call for installing left-turn and right-turn/deceleration lanes at Mount Vernon’s two school entrances and at Odum Smallwood Road, which is just west of the school.

The school is off Jim Hood Road, which leads to Mount Vernon Road. Just north of the Jim Hood-Mount Vernon intersection are North Hall high and middle schools.

“The project will improve intersection and road capacity, reduce rear-end and sideswipe crashes, reduce loss of control … and increase traffic flow of emergency vehicles and other traffic,” the application states.

The project has been in the works for a couple of years, with Hall County Schools joining in the effort.

Commissioner Billy Powell has said he believes the turn lane fixes would alleviate some traffic at the beginning and end of the school day.

“At all our schools, we have traffic issues when dropping off and picking up,” he said. “But that school in particular is just bursting at the seams and has a huge rider population.”

Hall County has committed $526,910 in special purpose local option sales tax money for the project, and the school system has agreed to donate right of way.

With the project estimated to cost $1.2 million, officials are hoping to get funding from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, a State Road and Tollway Authority-run program that provides grants and loans for transportation projects.

“I believe we should hear something around June or July,” said Ken Rearden, Hall’s public works and utilities director, on Monday.

Some $15 million is available through the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank’s latest round of funding. The deadline for applications was March 17.

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