Sunday February 7th, 2016 5:40AM

GHMPO reviews improvements for Green St.

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan added another item to an already growing list of improvements for busy Green Street at Tuesday morning's Gainesville Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee meeting. That item was flooding.

Dunagan did not mince words, calling it 'horrendous', and said it would not be an easy fix, but something has to be done especially with the recent heavy rain.

"The whole right lane on both sides of the road is just impassible and it is a mess," Dunagan said. "Somewhere along the line we're going to have to address the drainage issue on that road and maybe we can coordinate with the city and see if we can do some other things to improve Green Street, but the flooding is really bad."

Dunagan said the drainage problem calls for a coordinated repair effort by the Georgia Department of Transportation, since Green Street is a state route through Gainesville.

Long range and short range traffic solutions and projects got a review from committee members. Mayor Dunagan said his top priority is getting traffic through town and off historic Green Street.

"That's going to be the number one priority I think," Dunagan said. "Anything we do with traffic, I don't care where it is, in Hall County or Oakwood; it's not going to be popular with some people."

Dunagan added standing law set up to protect Green Street's historic homes prohibits widening the street.

As for routing traffic around the city and off of Green Street, a plan to build a bridge across Lake Lanier and link Highway 53 with Thompson Bridge Road is not a project Dunagan said he expected to see in his life time, but there are more cost effective and practical alternatives.

"One would probably be from Enota Avenue at Thompson Bridge Road to E.E. Butler and Martin Luther King Boulevard," Dunagan said. "And they're moving forward with the Sardis Road Connector, that one is already in the process of being done."

Pond and Company consultant Richard Fangmann presented a City of Gainesville Master Plan, noting that the area would undergo great change with its projected population increase by the year 2040 and that means planning for projects to handle the heavier load on the streets and roads. Presently Fangmann said there are 'Band-Aid fixes' for traffic problems especially on Green Street.

"There are two viable solutions," Fangmann said. "One is prohibiting left turns, or unbalance the lanes; both have advantages and disadvantages. The City and GDOT would need to work on what would be best. None of those would ultimately solve the problem."

Fangmann added the Highway 53 and Thompson bridge connector crossing Lake Lanier is a long term project, designed to handle 2040 traffic projections.

"We've got a lot of traffic that's currently using the Green Street and Thompson Bridge Corridor," Fangmann said. "There's more traffic that's projected to occur as you get closer to the year 2040."

Gainesville traffic engineer Dee Taylor told committee members a list of safety improvements is under review by GDOT for the hazardous intersection of Howard Road and Highway 365. Among them are safer left turning; a three fatality wreck occurred there a month ago.

"We're currently reviewing the possibility of a protected left turn onto Howard Road as well as lighting for the intersection," Taylor said.

Taylor added rumble strips and yellow reflective strips would also alert motorists.
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