FLOWERY BRANCH -- Hall County Public Works Director Ken Rearden made a visit to Flowery Branch City Hall Thursday evening to give city officials an update on a road project that has had some city council members frustrated.
The city of Flowery Branch entered into an agreement with the county in October of 2015 to make improvements to the intersection of McEver Road with Jim Crow Road and Gainesville Street. Among the improvements are the proposed addition of turning lanes and turn signals to help ease the flow of traffic through the busy intersection.
As Rearden told council members, however, the project has had trouble getting off the ground.
"We have had lots of obstacles with this project with getting the right of way as well as having the utilities get relocated," Rearden said.
City councilman Fred Richards said residents are wondering what is taking the project so long.
"I happen to live right by there and I'm catching a lot of gas for this," Richards said. "The tree lines for the overheads were cut back the Friday after Thanksgiving (of last year). It's now almost the end of April. When do you think we can actually see some things happening?"
Rearden said they now believe the work can be finished by the end of September of this year, with Gainesville public works set to begin water line work on the surrounding area next week.
He said the main lingering problem is the cooperation of Atlanta Gas Light, which was recently purchased by Southern Company, as well as Georgia Power. Flowery Branch Mayor Mike Miller said the project has been on standby for too long.
"I'm the type that I want it done and I want it done last week," Miller said. "We were told that this should be done last year before the school year started, now you're telling us end of September, that's nine weeks into the next school year. We've got school buses coming down there trying to make left turns daredevil-style."
Three Hall County schools, Flowery Branch Elementary, West Hall Middle and West Hall High, sit within minutes of the intersection.
Miller asked Rearden for contacts to Southern Company, saying he wanted to talk to the company's leadership himself. Rearden said if things go according to plan, construction on the project could begin by the end of May.
Flowery Branch City Manager Bill Andrew said the project had been in the works for over 10 years before Hall County was asked to aid in the project in 2015. Rearden said the project with the most comparable delays that he has worked on is the ongoing work around Spout Springs Road, just a few miles away.