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$1.2 billion long-range road plan for Hall County area gets final approval
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A $1.2 billion roads plan for the Hall County area through 2050 was officially adopted Tuesday, May 12, by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization's governing Policy Committee.

The plan received initial approval in September 2019, with the list of projects sent to the Atlanta Regional Commission for further review, particularly making sure the projects align with air quality standards. Hall County is part of a 22-county, Atlanta-area air quality zone.

“This is the MPO’s largest planning document that we do,” transportation planning director Joseph Boyd said Tuesday.

The MPO is the Hall County area’s lead transportation planning agency.

Projects include new roads, road extensions, road widenings and intersection improvements in the agency’s planning area, which also includes part of Jackson County.

They are divided into time frames, with nearly $400 million in projects slated before 2025. One of the biggest projects in that time frame is the widening of Interstate 985 from four to six lanes between Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County to Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood.

The MPO is required to update its project list every five years. The project list can be found on the agency’s website.

2020-25 major projects

These are estimated construction costs only:

  • Widening I-985 from Interstate 85 to Mundy Mill Road: $80.8 million

  • Widening Cleveland Highway/U.S. 129 from Limestone Parkway to south of Nopone Road, three phases: $76 million

  • Widening Spout Springs Road from Union Circle to Thompson Mill Road: $33.6 million

  • New bridges on Price Road/Ga. 136 over Chestatee River, Elachee Road over Interstate 985, Poplar Springs Road over Walnut Creek, Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 westbound over the Chattahoochee River: $32 million

  • Sardis Road Connector between Sardis Road and Thompson Bridge Road: $31 million

  • Roundabouts on Green Street at Thompson Bridge Road/Morningside Drive and E.E. Butler Parkway/Academy Street: $2.7 million

Source: Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization

Boyd said that revenue “impacts on projects if state funding projections decline due to the economic slowdown … is a wait-and-see game right now.”

Motor fuel taxes people pay at the pump help pay for road projects. The COVID-19 pandemic and April shelter-in-place order have kept people off the roads and fueling up less. Also, demand for oil has collapsed so much due to the pandemic that facilities for storing crude are nearly full.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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