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Why holiday traffic may be easier this year at Dawsonville Highway and McEver
Plan will ban left turns out of Village Shoppes to improve safety, traffic flow
08272017 STUDY
Some traffic relief may be coming to Dawsonville Highway before Black Friday, as the city hopes to get a real-time traffic light adjustment system in place and the Georgia Department of Transportation hoping to complete another “quick response” project in the area. The response project will get rid of left turns for southbound traffic on McEver at entrances to the Kohl’s and Publix-anchored shopping centers. Also, the project will ban left turns from the Publix shopping center onto McEver. - photo by Scott Rogers
Planned traffic fixes

  • Concrete medians to restrict certain turns where Village Shoppes and McEver’s Corners shopping areas meet McEver Road
  • Signal timing using live video along Dawsonville Highway near McEver Road
  • Eventual widening of Dawsonville Highway to six lanes from Ahaluna Drive to Shallowford Road, with the third lane on either side serving as either a straight-through or turn lane

City and state road efforts may make holiday traffic a little more joyful than last year for Dawsonville Highway drivers.

The most noticeable traffic change in the area might take place at an accident-prone crossing on McEver Road where an entrance to the Publix-anchored shopping center, Village Shoppes at Gainesville, sits opposite of the Kohl’s-anchored shopping center, McEver’s Corner.

The intersection is just south of Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53.

In a Georgia Department of Transportation project that could wrap up by Black Friday, motorists will no longer be able to turn left out of Village Shoppes to head south on McEver or turn left into the shopping center heading south from Dawsonville Highway.

Also, through a series of concrete median fixes, McEver’s Corners shoppers won’t be able to turn left to head north on Dawsonville Highway.

Basically, drivers will only be able to turn right to enter or turn right to leave Village Shoppes or McEver’s Corner at that intersection. Motorists traveling north on McEver toward Dawsonville Highway still will be able to turn left into McEver’s Corner.

“Gainesville police are very worn out by responding to the amount of crashes that occur there,” DOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said. “People are going to have to learn this traffic pattern.

“These are safer maneuvers. People in Georgia do not understand that (when) making left turns over four-lane intersections, every time you turn your head, you’re having to recalculate the gaps between the cars. You’re having to remake decisions over and over again.

Dawsonville Highway at McEver Road.jpg
A diagram shows how traffic flow will be changed along McEver Road between Village Shoppes and McEver's Corners. New concrete medians are shown in gray.

“And Georgia traffic does not like to wait. Gainesville traffic does not like to wait.”

Although the project is primarily aimed at improving safety, it also calls for extending the outside left-turn lane on McEver at Dawsonville Highway back to the McEver’s Corner entrance, according to a DOT project map.

Helping unclog roadways could be a Gainesville project that improves traffic monitoring along the busy corridor.

The city plans to use live video to keep an eye on intersections along the Ga. 53 corridor in the McEver Road area and make immediate signal timing changes as needed, public works director Chris Rotalsky has said.

“There’s activity taking place on that (project) every day,” he said. “Getting the fiber run is a physical activity. And then there’s getting the cameras in place and getting connectivity from the cameras to (traffic) cabinets.”

The Ga. 53 area is “where we had all the complaints last year,” said City Manager Bryan Lackey, speaking of holiday traffic. “(There were) people stuck in some of those shopping centers, not being able to get out — at least for a long time, anyway.”

Dawsonville Highway traffic has been a thorny traffic issue for some time now.

Vehicles particularly bunch up at Ga. 53 and McEver Road, but they also get congested farther northwest to Ahaluna Drive and southeast to Shallowford Road — an area where commercial development has boomed.

Another DOT project in development is widening Ga. 53 to six lanes, with the third lane on either side of Ga. 53 serving as either a straight-through or turn lane. The project would run from Ahaluna Drive to Shallowford.

Preliminary engineering could get underway in fiscal 2018, which ends June 30.

Right of way acquisition also would be involved before construction, “so, we’ve got some years here,” Strickland said.

Growth, meanwhile, is not expected to slow.

A 36,000-square-foot German-based Lidl grocery store is planned at 1010 Dawsonville Highway, southeast of Beechwood Boulevard. A Holiday Inn Express & Suites hotel is opening off Ga. 53 in Gainesville beside Buffalo Wild Wings and behind Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.

An 860-home older adult community off Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 also is planned off Ga. 53

at Ahaluna Drive. The developer has said grading on the project could start in late fall.

Officials are looking at other ways to address traffic congestion.

On Aug. 8, elected officials making up the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s decision-making policy committee decided that a study of the Dawsonville Highway-McEver Road intersection should include looking at potential Dawsonville Highway-McEver connector roads.

The MPO, Hall’s lead transportation planning agency, is seeking Federal Highway Administration planning dollars that trickle through the DOT to MPOs statewide.

Clyde Morris, an area resident who has pushed for improvements on Ga. 53, said he favors connector roads.

“Alternate roads to route travelers who want to go south on McEver from eastbound Dawsonville Highway or west on Dawsonville Highway from northbound McEver are essential to reducing the number of vehicles that would otherwise be forced to (line up) at the Dawsonville-McEver intersection,” he said.

McEver Road improvements at Dawsonville Highway
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