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Gaines Mill Road-Athens Highway road project is a no-go after getting chilly reception at community meeting
The Rev. Randall C. Studivant Sr., pastor of Greater Timber Ridge Church, speaks at the community meeting. Behind him is Hall County Commissioner Jeff Stowe. - photo by Jeff Gill

A road project that would have eliminated left turns from Gaines Mill Road onto Athens Highway/U.S. 129 is off the table as an option to fixing traffic problems at the busy intersection.

The project would have forced motorists wanting to turn left from Gaines Mill Road onto the four-lane U.S. 129 to first turn right onto U.S. 129 then make a U-turn in the highway median.

Residents attending a community meeting Saturday morning near the intersection told Hall County Commissioner Jeff Stowe they believed the proposed change wouldn’t solve traffic or safety issues.

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One resident expressed concerns about having to get into the left through lane on U.S. 129 immediately after making the right turn off Gaines Mill to reach the U-turn lane. Busy traffic times, especially evening and morning rush hour, would make that a difficult maneuver.

Hands shot up when Stowe asked the group of about 30 residents how many didn’t want the project. No one raised a hand when he asked if anyone was in favor of the project.

“We will notify (the Georgia Department of Transportation) that those improvements are not wanted at this time,” Stowe said.

Residents at the Dec. 5 meeting in the Greater Timber Ridge Church parking lot said they believed a traffic light was the safest option.

“If you’re not going to put a light there, just leave it as it is,” said Sheryl Hendrix, one of the residents at the meeting.

Stowe told the group that the GDOT has determined that a traffic light isn’t warranted at the intersection.

“They sent us a letter in April or May that, even with the projected new homes being in here, this does not qualify for a red light,” he said.

Stowe told the residents he would “keep them on notice that we still want a red light and we’ll want to look at that shortly.”

He also encouraged residents to contact state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, and state Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, to see if they can apply any pressure.

“They’re the direct connection with GDOT,” Stowe said.

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