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Tuesday February 19th, 2019 2:18PM

It's 'back to the drawing board' for Dawsonville Highway traffic mitigation plans

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter
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GAINESVILLE – The result of the study is not what city leaders were hoping for, but they say the $40,000 investment with infrastructure consulting firm RS&H is money wisely spent.

Thursday morning the Gainesville City Council heard from RS&K Senior Planner Steve Cote that constructing a bypass or alternate road to divert thru-traffic around the much-congested intersection of McEver Road and Dawsonville Highway was not a good financial investment.

“We didn’t see the benefits we were expecting,” Cote said as he summarized the study.  “We don’t see an alternate (road) being a good use of y’all’s resources.  We don’t see it as a good fix for traffic operations.”

City Manager Bryan Lackey said after the work session, “While we had been excited about the solution for Dawsonville Highway and moving forward with it, we were disappointed with these results.”

“We thought this type of connector road would be a good solution,” Lackey continued. 

RS&H looked at five basic bypass road locations plus a variation of several of them, but concluded that the cost of right-of-way acquisition and road construction would far exceed the financial benefit they might produce.

(Click here for a link to the PowerPoint Presentation from RS&H showing the proposed routes studied, then select the link at the bottom of the page titled: Dawsonville Highway/McEver Road Connectivity Study Presentation.)

“Obviously the cost/benefit ratio being negative showed that we don’t need to pursue this anymore; Georgia DOT, I don’t think, is ever going to put their support behind a project that has a negative cost/benefit ratio,” Lackey added.

Gainesville Public Works Director Chris Rotalsky explained that the money spent by the city was 20% of the total cost of the $200,000 study, with the Gainesville Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization (GHMPO) providing the balance.

“It’s like when you want to buy a house,” Rotalsky said after the meeting, “you hire a building inspector to look it over and let you know if it’s a good deal or not…it’s doing your due diligence.”

Lackey pointed to the positive aspects coming from the disappointing study results: “Because of that now we have a chance to shift gears a little bit…and focus on working with GDOT on the widening project (increasing the corridor from two lanes to three in either direction)…and turn our attention to the intersection itself.  The widening will help…but that (the intersection) is the bottleneck for the entire parkway out there.”

Cote mentioned other possible solutions the city could consider, with “inter-parcel connectivity” between the shopping centers being the least expensive and most quickly available. 

Cote explained, “To actually let folks who are travelling between establishments – say, if they’re trying to go from Home Depot to Academy Sports – they wouldn’t have to go back out onto Dawsonville Highway.  A side kind of road would help alleviate those small, little inter-parcel trips.”

Cote said his report would next be presented to the GHMPO.

Lackey told council members that despite the disappointment of the study results, “We are transitioning to other options; we’re not just putting our hands in our pockets and saying, ‘Oh, well…we can’t do anything else’, there are other things to pursue.”

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