Spout Springs Road could now be called Orange Barrel Alley.
Bright orange-and-white barrels line either side of the busy roadway and into side streets between Hog Mountain Road and just past Union Circle, as the long-awaited South Hall widening project gets underway.
Using heavy equipment, workers are clearing trees and brush along the stretch.
“After the clearing is done, utility relocation will start before we really break ground (on widening the road),” said Blake Jennings, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s assistant area manager for construction, giving The Times a tour of the work site last week.
He projects that heavy construction, when residents will start seeing the road really take shape, could kick off in the spring.
G.P.’s Enterprises Inc., which is finishing up the Exit 14 project on Interstate 985, just a few miles away, is the contractor on the project and has set up offices on property across from Spout Springs Elementary School.
The $31 million project, which required right of way acquisition on 161 parcels, was awarded to the Auburn contractor this fall with a 760-day completion timeline, according to the DOT.
The project, which will span 3.6 miles, calls for widening Spout Springs in South Hall from two to four lanes with a 20-foot raised median and sidewalks.
Jennings said the tree clearing and brush removal shouldn’t affect traffic. The real interruption will take place when motorists are being shifted from old lanes to new ones — but even that shouldn’t happen anytime soon.
When it does, daytime and overnight single-lane closures will be allowed throughout the week. Work on the roadway near schools will be limited to 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during the school year.
Machinery in motion is a sight many longtime residents probably wondered when — or if — they’d see on Spout Springs, especially as development took off early in the century along the road.
Over the last 15 years, commercial and residential growth has hit the Flowery Branch and Braselton sides of the road, including Stonebridge Village shopping center and Sterling on the Lake, which is permitted to up to 2,000 homes.
And like they say — more people, more cars.
To ease some of the congestion before a full-on widening could take place, Hall County made some improvements, including turn lanes, in 2010.
Plans for a four-lane Spout Springs Road in South Hall went on public display for the first time in December 2012. More than 300 people attended a public information open house at Prince of Peace Catholic Church.
Initially, the project called for widening the road from Hog Mountain Road near I-985 to Thompson Mill Road at the Hall-Gwinnett line.
The project was broken into two phases in 2016 “in an effort to expedite the project’s overall timeline,” said Katie Crumley, Hall County spokeswoman.
The second phase, affecting 91 parcels, will run between Union Circle and Thompson Mill.
Hall County’s website says right of way acquisition could start in fall 2020, with construction starting in summer or fall of 2022.
The project hinged on the outcome of a Nov. 5 referendum on the next special purpose local option sales tax, SPLOST VIII, which calls for $73.6 million for road improvements, including $26.8 million for right of way acquisition and other preliminary work in Spout Springs’ second phase, Crumley has said.
Even though SPLOST VIII passed, funding for construction of the second phase has yet to be identified, county officials have said.