State Department of Transportation officials say renovations to Dawson County’s busiest intersection could begin within the next 18 months.
DOT representatives were at Kilough Elementary in Dawsonville last week to show preliminary drawings of a plan that would convert the crossing of Ga. 400 and 53 to a two-legged continuous flow intersection.
The at-grade intersection, which would be a first for Georgia, is designed to move left-turning vehicles out of traffic’s main flow by using a series of access roads and longer left-turn lanes.
DOT unveiled the proposed changes, which are estimated to cost about $7 million and would not displace any current nearby businesses, to stakeholders last month.
Thursday’s meeting introduced the plan with a few additions, including sidewalks on both sides of 400 on Hwy. 53.
Project manager Robert Murphy said almost all the comments he received from the public were positive.
“They want to know when it will be finished,” he said.
Feedback also focused on other problematic intersections in the area.
“Some of the other concerns I’ve had is they want to add some additional traffic signals at Lumpkin Campground Road and also at Kilough,” Murphy said.
“We agreed we would take a look at that, and if it’s warranted, we would go ahead and try to improve those intersections.”
Jim Young, manager of the Ingles in Dawsonville, talked to design consultants Thursday about the need for a traffic signal at the shopping center’s Hwy. 53 entrance.
“It’s hard enough to turn left out of the center now, and the entrance to Kroger is the same way. There needs to be lights at both places,” said Young, who added he thought the other proposed improvements would clear congestion.
James Askew, president of United Community Bank, which sits in the Ingles shopping center, said he is pleased with the plan.
“This at-grade intersection is 100 percent better than any of the other options they brought to us over the years,” Askew said.
Those options have included an estimated $40 million “flyover,” which would have elevated Ga. 400 traffic over Ga. 53.
With the new plan, Murphy said right-of-way acquisition is expected to begin in fiscal year 2011, provided funding remains in place.
Steve Gooch, who represents the 9th District on the DOT board, said most of the project’s funding would come from Washington, with the state paying the remaining 20 percent.
“We may only have to come up with $2 (million) or $3 million, so that would work great,” he said.
Gooch said the intersection has needed improvement for some time.
“Hopefully, they will come up with the money in the next two years,” he said.
“It’s definitely a better alternative to the proposal of the overpass, because so many people were going to be cut off from having that traffic come in and out of their development. Everybody should be pretty open to this.”
Those who were unable to attend the open house have until April 29 to mail their comments to Glenn Bowman, Georgia DOT, 600 W. Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30308.