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Sunday July 5th, 2015 5:31AM

Hall Commissioners are looking for 'pennies to spare'

By Jerry Gunn Reporter
GAINESVILLE - It appears that the potentially hazardous Tumbling Circle railroad crossing in south Hall County will remain open while county commissioners look for funding partners 'who have penny to spare' who would help pay for a bridge over it.

The phrase came from County Commissioner Craig Lutz after commissioners Monday heard from Public Works Director Ken Rearden, who told them that a bridge over the crossing might be more affordable than first thought.

The Commission was considering a resolution to close the crossing and abandon 1,786 feet of right-of-way along Tumbling Circle which is off Old Oakwood Road. The measure was tabled at the Commission's last meeting when the question of cost arose. Rearden had an answer.

"You had asked us to get an estimate for constructing a bridge," Rearden said. "I am pleased to tell you instead of it being $15-million that the GDOT gentleman told you, it's $3.45-million, that's the estimate provided by Moreland-Altobelli."

Moreland-Altobelli is a Norcross based engineering firm. The much larger construction estimate came from Michael Nash, A Georgia Department of Transportation railroad crossing engineer.Lutz agreed that was good news because for motorists in Hall County, the crossing has 'utility'.

"I would rather it be replaced, than closed," he said. "I would rather that we go out and find funding partners wherever they may come from, whether it would be partially from Northfolk Southern, whether it would be partially from the state, wherever it is to see if we can get some assistance to get this thing done."

Lutz added the county could contribute to the cost, with staff recommending how much the county could afford. Other commissioners agreed, with Scott Gibbs suggesting the flow of traffic would be much better with a bridge and with partners it is something the Commission 'would look at down the road'.

Commissioners decided to leave the crossing closure and road abandonment tabled and the crossing remains open. The County was responding to a request from GDOT and Northfolk Southern to pursue the closure and abandonment because of 'unsafe conditions and many accidents documented'.

"Please look both ways and make sure you've got plenty of time to get across," Lutz said after commissioners agreed to table the Tumbling Circle crossing issue. "I think there's only been one accident recently and all the other accident happened some time ago and people cross that thing all the time, but putting an above grade crossing in will make it better."
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