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Traffic light planned at new Wal-Mart on Thompson Bridge Road
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The new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, along with Taco Bell, on busy Ga. 60/Thompson Bridge Road in Gainesville will have something in common next year — a traffic light.

As of now, it is set to be activated after the grand opening, said Amanda Henneberg, Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

Wal-Mart, which is paying for the new signal, “usually installs signals close to opening,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The store, as well as a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market store on Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road, are scheduled for completion in early 2015, company officials have said.

The DOT approved the new light “to make sure it meets design standards,” Pope said. “We will inspect their (work) to ensure it is correct, then the city will maintain the signal.”

The subject came up at a recent Gainesville City Council meeting, with an update from public works Director David Dockery.

He said the light would go up at the entrance to the 42,000-square-foot grocery store, which will have an accompanying 12-pump fueling station at Lanier Plaza shopping center, where the Wal-Mart is anchored..

“The city had preferred (the light) go on Virginia Circle, but we understand GDOT’s decision based on traffic conditions on Thompson Bridge Road,” City Manager Kip Padgett later said.

Virginia Circle is just north of the shopping center.

“Staff met with DOT and requested that (the light) be at Virginia Circle,” he said at the council meeting. “We felt like it would still allow the folks coming out of Wal-Mart the time they needed to take the left ... and serve the greater need.”

As far as the Wal-Mart in the Lanier Commons shopping center at the intersection of Ga. 369 and McEver Road, “there are no changes to the signalized intersection and no changes to the existing four entrances at that location,” Dockery said.

Pope also said DOT proposes no changes at the Ga. 369 store.

That’s also a heavily traveled area, with Hall County Government Center nearby and homes and neighborhoods lining Browns Bridge Road between McEver and the Forsyth County line.

The Wal-Mart stores, particularly the one at Thompson Bridge, were the subject of much speculation and resident opposition earlier in the year, even before it was known the retail giant was involved.

Residents of neighborhoods near Lanier Plaza turned out at City Council meetings to voice opposition.

Quality of life issues, including traffic impacts and the eviction of small businesses in the shopping center, were among the concerns raised.

Ultimately, council approved a rezoning needed for the redevelopment to proceed.

In July, Wal-Mart announced it would be putting the Neighborhood Markets — a smaller version of the megabox retailer — in the two shopping centers.

In November interviews, the store managers said hiring was well underway.

Employees at the Thompson Bridge store would begin work this month to prepare the store for a tentative opening the first week of January. And the Browns Bridge Road location would open Jan. 28, officials said.

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