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5 road projects to watch in Hall County in 2021
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Athens Highway road widening construction continues south of Gillsville Highway. - photo by Scott Rogers

Road and bridge construction in Hall County will continue to be brisk business in 2021.

Spout Springs Road widening

One of the area’s largest projects is the $32 million widening of Spout Springs Road from Hog Mountain Road in Flowery Branch to Union Drive. 

Workers have been out in force along the stretch, using lane closures to help complete tasks. The road’s path is beginning to take shape as crews grade future lanes and even, in some places, have installed curb and gutter.

Also, a new Quincy Drive — a side street near Union Circle — is being built. One of the project’s largest side street projects, realigning Elizabeth Lane near Cherokee Bluff to Sterling on the Lake subdivision, is well under construction.

Still, the project, which is set for completion in December, is just 40% complete, said SueAnne Decker, district preconstruction engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation, during a recent transportation planning meeting.

“I’m not sure (the contractor) is going to make that date,” she said. “They’re really going to have to hustle to get done by the end of the year.”

The contractor can ask for a time extension.

Right of way acquisition on the second phase of Spout Springs Road’s widening project is now projected to begin in the fall of 2023 —  three years later than had been expected. 

That means if the right of way process takes the same amount of time as it did on phase one, construction might not start until two years later in 2025. 

The issue is Hall doesn’t have construction money for the second phase, which would run from Union Circle to the Gwinnett County line. 

The project “could start earlier if a funding source is identified sooner,” Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley has said. “Funding possibilities do include a future SPLOST or working with the state to identify other funding options.” 

The special purpose local option sales tax approved in November 2019, SPLOST VIII, called for $73.6 million in road improvements, including $26.8 million for right of way acquisition and other preliminary work in Spout Springs’ second phase. 

Athens Highway widening
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Athens Highway road widening construction continues south of Gillsville Highway. - photo by Scott Rogers

Another long-awaited project on tap for completion this year is the Athens Highway widening in East Hall.

The project, which began in August 2016, had been scheduled for a 2020 completion but ended up getting delayed a year because of “significant utility” issues, officials said last year.

When done, U.S. 129 will be four lanes between Interstate 85 and Interstate 985. U.S. 129 is now four lanes between I-985 and Gillsville Highway and between Talmo and I-85.

The $45 million work underway now — 7 miles between Gillsville Highway/Ga. 332 in Hall to Talmo in Jackson County — is the final four-lane link.

The road is considered a vital truck/commerce route as it connects the two interstates, especially as the DOT is also widening I-85 from four to six lanes between Ga. 53 and U.S. 129.

New bridges

Also under construction are new bridges on Browns Bridge Road/Ga. 369 at the Hall-Forsyth County line, spanning the Chattahoochee River, and westbound Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 bridge over the Chattahoochee River.

The new $27 million Browns Bridge is expected to be completed by June 2021. The $20 million project is projected to be finished by July 2022.

Green Street improvements

A project that’s in early stages and has huge public interest is improvements on historic Green Street in Gainesville.

The project, costing about $18 million, includes a 5-foot raised median, slightly wider lanes, rebuilt sidewalks, new streetlights and a possible roundabout on Green at Academy Street and E.E. Butler Parkway. 

Plans for a roundabout at Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive have been scrapped, while a final design for the one at Academy and E.E. Butler isn’t finished.

City officials announced last year that the improvement project was set to get underway in 2025, with right of way acquisition possibly starting in 2023.

Matt Tarver, Gainesville’s deputy director of engineering and transportation, has said that city officials are putting together a request for proposals for the project.

Sardis Connector construction

Right of way acquisition is underway for one of Hall’s most anticipated projects, the Sardis Connector, which calls for a new four-lane between Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 in West Hall to Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 in North Hall.

Hall County is responsible for the design, engineering and right-of-way acquisition for the project, while the state will handle construction. The county contribution is $27.5 million, with $17.5 million coming from the county’s current special purpose local option sales tax, SPLOST VII. SPLOST VIII funds will be used for the other $10 million.  

The state’s cost will be about $31 million.

Right of way acquisition is expected to be done in July 2022. Then, the state will take over, with construction projected to be done in 2024.  

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