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Six lanes could be coming to Dawsonville Highway stretch. Here’s how and when
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Motorists wait at the traffic signal at Dawsonville Highway and McEver Road Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. GDOT is proposing improvements on Dawsonville Highway between Ahaluna Drive and Shallowford Road, and has a public comment period open until Nov. 8. - photo by Scott Rogers

Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 may become a full-fledged six-lane road between Ahaluna Drive and Shallowford Road in Gainesville in a few years. 

The Georgia Department of Transportation is proposing to widen the highly traveled portion of Ga. 53 using turn lanes that now 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.  

Public input 

Residents can comment on the project online at dot.ga.gov/AboutGDOT/PublicOutreach until Nov. 8. The project is listed under “Recently held public meetings.” Maps and other information can also be found at that site. 

When the $4 million 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, DOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said. 

The right of way acquisition is estimated to cost $484,000. 

Also, as part of the project, the DOT 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 DOT says that by doing the widening project, “there will be a reduction in the vehicle delay of approximately 28% in the morning and 40% in the evening.” 

The public can comment online on the project until Nov. 8. 

“All comments will be considered as we develop the plans, and a response will be posted (on the project website) approximately 30 days after the close of the comment period,” according to the DOT. 

The right of way acquisition could start in early 2021 and take a year to complete, so the project could get started in 2022, Strickland said. 

Construction could take two years to complete, she added. 

Traffic has long been an issue on Ga. 53 between Ahaluna and Shallowford, especially as the corridor has grown commercially. 

At one point, a road connecting Ga. 53 to McEver was being considered. A study completed in 2019 showed that an alternate route likely would not be worth the cost.  

That left officials considering other relief measures, such interparcel connectivity. The DOT’s project also has been seen as offering help. 

“The effects of that additional lane will need to be witnessed to see how it can be improved or what the next step in improvement for that corridor will be,” Chris Rotalsky, Gainesville’s director of public works, said in February 2019. 

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Traffic moves along Dawsonville Highway at Beechwood Boulevard Wednesday, Oct. 21, 220. GDOT is proposing improvements on Dawsonville Highway between Ahaluna Drive and Shallowford Road, and has a public comment period open until Nov. 8. - photo by Scott Rogers
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