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Dawson County commissioners move forward with decision on this road study
Lumpkin Campground Road Feb. 2 2023
District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines, center, comments on the intersection of Ga. 53 and Lumpkin Campground Road during a larger conversation about the latter roadway on Feb. 2. - photo by Julia Hansen

Before casting a definitive vote, District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines pointed to one of multiple elephants in the room when discussing one of Dawson County’s most congested intersections. 

This story continues below.

“We’ve got a problem with [Ga.] 53 and Lumpkin Campground Road that’s got to be addressed,” Gaines said during the Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 2 voting session. 

That intersection was just one part of the conversation before board members unanimously approved an expanded traffic study of Lumpkin Campground Road with a $29,675 price tag.

The vote follows a postponement last month of the decision.

Now, consulting firm KCI will look at Lumpkin Campground Road north from the Forsyth County line to the Dawson Forest Road roundabout and from the corridor’s intersection with Ga. 53 to Ga. 400 in Dawson County.

That cost is up from consulting firm KCI’s initial estimate of $17,300, which would have only covered the study of the roadway’s southernmost segment.

Initially, the study was requested around when the BOC approved a second rezoning application for a planned subdivision at Lee Castleberry Road and Stacie Lane, Planning and Development Director Sharon Farrell previously told the board. 

The developer will contribute $150,000 for road improvements, according to the rezoning approval’s stipulations. 

Dialogue around Lumpkin Campground Road began before that particular rezoning, though, when the now-defunct Etowah Bluffs project was being considered, Farrell explained on Jan. 19.

“Every time we issue a permit or there’s a rezoning–and we always have one to two of those every month–we just make it worse, and we add to the problem that we’re having,” Farrell said about traffic congestion along Lumpkin Campground Road.

In response to Gaines’ concerns, District 3 Commissioner Alexa Bruce mentioned her discussions with GDOT about the light signals at the Lumpkin Campground-Ga. 53 intersection.

“The problem they’re running into is they know it needs to be fixed. They’re going to do another traffic study to look at traffic signals along Lumpkin Campground Road,” Bruce said. 

Bruce explained that GDOT can’t disburse federal funds to fix the southeastern corner of the intersection because it’s considered a historic area. 

Then, there’s a hangup with the corner diagonally across from that one, too, where the property owner has voiced interest in putting in a gas station where Edge Roofing used to be. 

“[GDOT] is limited there because they're not wanting to donate anything,” Bruce said. “Right now, the two corners are prohibiting GDOT from doing anything, but they are looking into it.” 

District 4 Commissioner Emory Dooley said it would be helpful to have ready details from the study of Lumpkin Campground Road’s Dawson Forest Road-Ga. 53 segment during these kinds of discussions. 

“If we have some information when talking to GDOT, it kind of helps them say, ‘This is what we think needs to be done’,” Dooley said. 

Hawke pointed out that the county does have an on-call traffic engineering study of the intersection from KCI.

Dooley also looked beyond Lumpkin Campground Road, mentioning his interest in taking a look at Dawson Forest Road East from the current roundabout along the roadway until where the new roundabout will go. 

“I know that traffic light at Walmart and Publix, it’s always jammed up, and I’m not sure if we can figure out what to do there without including it in this…it feeds into that traffic area there,” Dooley added. 

However, Thurmond clarified that the funds for this study have to stay on Lumpkin Campground Road, because of how the stipulation for the Lee Castleberry Road subdivision was written. 

“With the previous topic and this topic,” Gaines said of funding for road improvements, “both are examples of where developers have put extra skin in the game when it comes to approvals of rezonings, above and beyond the impact fees that we have in place. They are willing to pay for a lot of the stuff that we couldn't do out of our pocket.”