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Could Dawsonville Highway widening project be near? What GDOT says about project schedule
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Motorists travel along Dawsonville Highway Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, near Beechwood Boulevard. - photo by Scott Rogers

In the works for years, turning a heavily traveled section of Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 in Gainesville into a true six-lane road may finally go out for bids early next year.

The project “is still in the design stage and is proceeding according to schedule,” said Georgia Department of Transportation district spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnson.

Final plans scheduled to be submitted by Dec. 30. If all goes as planned, the project will go out for bids in February 2023.

“While I’m glad GDOT is moving forward on the long-promised major improvements, it disappoints me that the project is still in the design stages and won’t even go out for bid until six months from now,” said Clyde Morris, a Gainesville resident and longtime proponent of Dawsonville Highway improvements.

“It’s been over five years since then-mayor Danny Dunagan and the City Council promised major improvements for Dawsonville Highway,” he said.

The $4.3 million project calls for widening Ga. 53 between Ahaluna Drive and Shallowford Road using existing turn lanes that lead drivers into the many commercial properties that dot the corridor, as well as additional property. 

Only one part of the Ga. 53 stretch has a third lane that currently serves as both a through and turn lane — an eastbound stretch between the Olive Garden restaurant and McEver Road.

When the project is finished, drivers will be able to drive straight through on six lanes between Ahaluna and Shallowford — nearly a 1-mile stretch — and make right turns as needed.

Also, as part of the project, GDOT plans to build a median that would block Beechwood Boulevard drivers from making a left turn onto Ga. 53. Beechwood drivers wanting to turn left, or head west on Ga. 53, will have to turn right onto Ga. 53 and make a U-turn.

The project “will improve congestion,” states a GDOT document.

Several minor projects have happened, including lengthening the turn lanes westbound onto Green Hill Circle and southbound onto McEver, “while we’re still waiting for GDOT to make major improvements,” Morris said.

“Fortunately, the sprawling Lake Society development on Ahaluna Drive did not move forward until recently, sparing us a large increase in traffic volume on Dawsonville Highway without any improvements to handle it,” Morris said.