Saturday May 25th, 2024 10:24AM

Transportation officials provide update to Hall County community at annual event

By Austin Eller News Director

Transportation officials gathered Tuesday morning at Lanier Technical College's Ramsey Conference Center to provide an update on area roadway improvements to the Hall County Community.

The information came during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce's Annual Transportation Forum.

Russell McMurry, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation, and Jason Dykes, Assistant District Engineer with the department, discussed a series of recent and upcoming roadway projects in the county.

 

The future of Georgia 365

The bulk of McMurry's address pertained to data found in a recent planning study over Georgia 365 in North Hall County. Work on that study began in the Summer of 2022, according to data on the GDOT website.

The study looked at several potential outcomes that could help account for roadway volume increases expected in the area by 2050. That comes as work continues on the Blue Ridge Connector in that portion of the county, which is expected to lead to an increase in volume.

Several hypothetical improvements to 365 were discussed by McMurry.

The first included widening Ga 365 from its current four lanes to six lanes from 985 to Belton Bridge. McMurry said this would be mildly helpful in accounting for additional volume.

Another possibility included widening 365 but converting it into a freeway, essentially expanding the reach of I-985.  

"We modeled three locations with interchanges, one at Ramsey Road, one at White Sulphur and one at State Route 52," McMurry said.

McMurry said in this scenario, many roads would require the construction of overpasses. McMurry said this hypothetical move would properly account for traffic increases in 2050.

The third scenario involved the addition of frontage roads.

"We would begin to connect the intersections by building a parallel, one-way frontage road, so that you can exit off a ramp and then make your turn maneuvers on a frontage road instead of just having normal intersections," McMurry said.

Current traffic on the Ga. 365 corridor from 985 up to Belton Bridge Road averages about 32,600 vehicles per day, with about 8.5% of that number being trucks. They predict that will increase to about 56,000 vehicles per day by 2050, with anywhere from 11 to 18% of those vehicles being trucks.

McMurry said the final report will be published this summer.

 

Active and upcoming projects in Hall County

Jason Dykes, Assistant District Engineer with GDOT, discussed several active projects in the county.

Dykes started with a project which will add dual left turns off McEver Road to Browns Bridge Road. It will also extend a short merge after the redlight to Cresswind, according to Dykes.

A $27.2 million project to widen SR 211 from I-85 to north of Pinot Noir Drive is expected to be completed in March 2026. The one-mile widening will also involve the construction of two multi-lane roundabouts - one at SR 211 at the I-85 southbound ramp, and another at Tour De France Drive. A second portion of the SR 211 widening will then be constructed from Pinot Noir Drive to SR 347. That second phase will begin shortly after Phase One ends, according to Dykes.

One massive project for Hall County is the Sardis Road Connector, which will create a four-lane divided highway running from Fran Mar Drive to Mount Vernon Road. That project is expected to begin in July 2024.

Dykes said another upcoming project will add another lane to Dawsonville Highway from Ahaluna Drive to Shallowford Road.

"It'll really help push another lane of traffic through those intersections there to really help move traffic along," Dykes said.

Several other projects were discussed, including the widening of Green Street.

 

Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST)

Funding is needed for several Hall County projects, which is where officials hope a successful TSPLOST will come into play.

While the elected officials did not advocate for a Hall County TSPLOST at the event, the matter was discussed several times

That comes after a 2023 Hall County TSPLOST effort failed after the cities of Buford and Rest Haven refused to sign an agreement on the matter. Georgia legislators then passed a bill in the 2024 legislative session that prevents individual cities from stopping county TSPLOST initiatives.

"I can't advocate as a public official for TSPLOST, but I can educate," McMurry said. "When 159 counties come to visit, and if they've got their hand out, not much happens. But when a county comes with something in hand and says, 'Hey, I'd like to partner,' things get done."

"This is critical in a growing community, and we cannot sit back and just expect that federal dollars will always flow here to do everything we need," Brian Rochester with Rochester DCCM said at the event. 

The TSPLOST is expected to be on Hall County ballots this November.

 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: GDOT, Georgia Department of Transportation, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Georgia DOT, Transportation Forum
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