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Traffic tie-ups mar first day for Hall County schools
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Traffic was heavy Monday morning along Spout Springs Road as school buses, parents, faculty and students made their way to the new Flowery Branch High School for the first day of the school year. Cars lined up on either side of the entrance as a Hall County Sheriff's Office deputy directed traffic. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Mark Coleman, principal of Flowery Branch High School, talks about traffic at the new school off Spout Springs Road.

FLOWERY BRANCH — Tyler Tanksley shook his head as he gazed at the traffic building up on Spout Springs Road in South Hall.

"It’s hard for the dump trucks to get in and out. I’m having to block traffic for them," said Tanksley, who, along with co-workers, were packing in dirt for a children’s soccer field at The Springs Church.

Traffic was heavy, as expected, Monday morning along the two-lane artery as school buses,
parents, faculty and students made their way to the new Flowery Branch High School for the first day of the school year.

Cars lined up on either side of the entrance as a Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputy directed traffic.

Approaching from the west, motorists were backed up past Elizabeth Lane, which leads to another entrance to the school, and the vast Sterling on the Lake subdivision.

"It’s all for the kids," said Tanksley, who works for Monroe-based Gary’s Grading and Pipeline Co.

Flowery Branch High wasn’t the only South Hall school working out first-day traffic kinks.

As a part of a shuffle geared toward saving money, Davis Middle School now occupies the old Flowery Branch High on Hog Mountain Road and South Hall Middle has taken over the old Davis school off Atlanta Highway.

Deputies also directed traffic at those schools.

Two deputies were planted on Hog Mountain Road, where traffic was backed up beyond Cash Road and down toward Spout Springs Road.

Hall County transportation director Jewel Armour said the morning went relatively smoothly systemwide, as far as bus traffic went. There were some late buses overall at certain stops, but no mishaps as buses arrived safely at schools.

Mark Coleman, Flowery Branch High’s principal, also was pleased at how things fell in place Monday morning.

"As soon as the first bell rang, students very easily found their advisers in their classrooms and picked up their schedules, and we’re well into second period right now and moving along with a normal school day," he said in a mid-morning phone interview.

As far as the traffic, "I think what we saw this morning ... being a new school and with a large freshman class, we had a lot of students having their parents bring them to school."

"I think that will slow down drastically. In the next couple of weeks, it shouldn’t even be an issue."

He has said he would like for parents and student drivers to typically enter and exit the school from Elizabeth Lane and faculty, staff and buses to enter from Spout Springs Road.

"However, we realize that parents traveling west on Spout Springs Road will more than likely pull in our main entrance, drop their students off and then ... most of them would exit on Elizabeth Lane, putting them back on Spout Springs," he said.

Spout Springs, which has grown over the past decade as subdivisions and businesses have moved in, is scheduled for major improvements in the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Long Range Transportation Plan.

Until that happens, county officials are looking at some improvements along the road, said Jody Woodall, civil engineer in Hall County’s public works department.

Under study now are intersection improvements at Hog Mountain Road, Ivy Springs subdivision, Capitola Farm Road, Elizabeth Lane, Spout Springs Elementary and Union Circle.

A signal light, if justified through a study, will be installed at Elizabeth Lane, Woodall has said.

Also being considered is a 2-foot widening on both sides of Spout Springs from Hog Mountain to the Braselton town limits.

County officials are working on a concept layout and design, as well as putting together a preliminary cost estimate. "Construction should occur relatively soon," Woodall has said.

The county’s 1-cent sales tax program would pay for the improvements.

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