Hall County could start buying property in mid-2016 for the Spout Springs Road widening project, earlier than previously thought thanks to voters passing the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax in March.
“That’s good news,” said Sam Baker, senior transportation planner for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization, to a Flowery Branch audience Tuesday morning.
“It’s one of the most important projects in Hall County.”
Baker, speaking to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s South Hall Business Coalition at the Spout Springs Library, said right-of-way acquisition for the project could run about $32 million.
The five-year SPLOST extension is expected to raise $158 million overall, including $20 million for the Spout Springs right-of-way.
“The availability of the SPLOST funds will allow Hall County to begin the right-of-way acquisition sooner but not necessarily complete it,” Baker said after the meeting. “Hall County still expects to get federal and state funds.”
The project has been talked about for years, as traffic congestion has built up along the major artery from residential and commercial growth in the area.
The widening to four lanes from two is estimated to cost $120 million and would run from Interstate 985 in Flowery Branch to Thompson Mill Road in Braselton.
“Environmental review is going on and right-of-way plans are under development,” Baker said.
The county had planned to start buying right of way in 2018-19, with construction starting in 2023.
The project, as well as other area road improvements, also could benefit from Georgia’s new transportation tax structure, which took effect July 1 and involves a 26-cent-per-gallon excise tax on gas.
“We are hopeful this new state law will provide some additional funds for our region and we may be able to undertake the construction of (Spout Springs) sooner than 2023,” Baker said.