See previous installments of The Road Ahead
BANKS COUNTY PROJECTS
Ga. 98/Ga. 164 improvements
Description: Turn lanes and signalization will be added at Ga. 98 and Ga. 164/Old 441 and Athens Street will be relocated onto Evans Street.
Cost: $3.52 million
Funding sources: $3.52 million, transportation sales tax
Ga. 51 improvements
Description: Widening Ga. 51 to three lanes, with a center turn lane, in front of Banks County Primary School
Cost: $2.97 million
Funding sources: $2.97 million, transportation sales tax
Tanger Drive relocation
Description: Tanger Drive will be relocated to Faulkner Road and will get a traffic signal. The existing Tanger Drive will be converted to a right-in, right-out only off U.S. 441 near Interstate 85.
Cost: $2.8 million
Funding sources: $2.8 million, transportation sales tax
Note: All amounts are based on 2011 dollars and do not take inflation into account.
Source: Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Mountains Regional Commission
Safety is key to three Banks County projects proposed as part of the Georgia Mountains Region’s 1 percent sales tax for transportation.
If the tax is approved on July 31, Tanger Drive would be moved so that it connects with Faulkner Road off U.S. 441. A new traffic light also would be part of the new intersection.
Also proposed are turn lanes and a traffic signal at Ga. 98 and Ga. 164/Old 441; a project that includes relocating Athens Street onto Evans Street; and widening Ga. 51 to three lanes, with a center turn lane, in front of Banks County Primary School.
The three projects combined would cost a total $9.3 million and would take place between 2013 and 2019 under a 10-year schedule that has been laid out for all the region’s projects.
“We’re hoping that congestion and dangerous locations are mitigated by the projects,” said Brad Day, community developer for Banks County.
Tanger Drive now empties onto U.S. 441 close to Interstate 85. Under the proposed rerouting, what used to be Tanger Drive will remain but the intersection will only allow cars to turn right onto or from U.S. 441.
“There’s too much traffic there and accidents probably happening because people try to get in the middle lane (to turn),” said Greg Bucknowski, owner of Pool and Spa Clearance Center, just off Faulkner and U.S. 441.
“I come off I-85 all the time and I’m always maneuvering knowing that everybody is gravitating to the middle to make a left (turn).”
The area around the I-85 interchange is a busy stop for travelers, also featuring restaurants, hotels, convenience stores and a smattering of other businesses.
The intersection at Ga. 98 and Ga. 164/Old 441 “is one of the top sites for crashes involving injuries in Banks County,” according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
As for the Ga. 51 segment in front of the school, “every morning, it’s backed up half a mile or more both ways,” said Milton Dalton, chairman of the Banks County Board of Commissioners.
Dalton also served on the transportation roundtable for the 13-county Georgia Mountains region, one of 12 designated regions throughout Georgia that will vote on the tax. The roundtable settled on the slate of regional projects.
He also cited Tanger Drive as a tricky area to navigate.
“When we have races on the weekend (at Atlanta Dragway), traffic is tremendous,” Dalton said.
But Day also is hoping the projects will serve as an economic boost, particularly in “the next phase of development at the Banks Crossing area with the Faulkner Road project.”
Bucknowski said he hopes his location would become a prime one if the new Tanger Drive is built.
“It would have tremendous impact. It would be good for everybody, but I’d reap the reward,” he said.