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Howell Bridge Road East currently ends at the plant entrance of the Universal Alloy Corporation. Preliminary plans call for a bypass extending from that point to State Highway 372, near to its intersection at Flatbottom Road.

Relief in sight for Ball Ground traffic woes…finally!

It has been nearly three decades since Ball Ground city officials first sought some relief for their downtown traffic congestion, specifically concerning the voluminous truck traffic. It now appears relief may finally be in sight.
According to Ball Ground City Manager Eric Wilmarth, the Atlanta Regional Commission recently awarded $3.2 million dollars to be purposed for the bypass project, and an engineering firm has already been hired for preliminary planning.
Wilmarth added that a request for funding through the federal level has been made by way of CDS (Congressionally Directed Spending) which is currently being ushered through the United States Senate by Senator Rafael Warnock. When approved, that will target $4.8 million dollars for right-of-way acquisition.
Preliminary plans call for the bypass to extend from Howell Bridge Road East and to circle back around to Gilmer Ferry Road, the Free Home Highway, or State Route 372 somewhere near that road’s intersection with Flatbottom Road. Howell Bridge Road, which is the primary exit off Highway 575 into Ball Ground, currently ends at the Universal Alloy Corporation (UAC) plant entrance.
Wilmarth notes the bypass, although it entails only a couple of miles, will be a massive construction project. For one thing, there will be a 70-foot-deep cut required for an underpass beneath Northridge Road leaving that road with no access to the bypass.
The idea of a bypass was first floated by Ball Ground in 1996, and the city was optimistic at first because the Georgia Department of Transportation immediately approved the project and, according to Wilmarth, it was then picked up by the state. However, the bypass project has languished at the state level ever since. The need for traffic relief has grown tremendously in the ensuing years because the once sleepy downtown area has awakened over the past decade.
Ball Ground now boasts many prosperous downtown venues including unique shops and restaurants resulting in a considerable amount of pedestrian traffic. Coupled with many popular downtown events ranging from concerts in the park and festivals, officials have longed feared the possibility of a tragic accident despite local efforts to install crosswalks, pedestrian warning lights, and other safety measures.
Although relief is now in sight, it still may be many years before that relief becomes a reality. When asked about a possible construction start date, Wilmarth said that is still far into the future.
Engineering will take three to five years, and there are also numerous bureaucratic hurdles because of federal policies which includes environmental and historical studies among others.
Still, after nearly three decades, the wheels are now finally beginning to turn on the Ball Ground bypass.

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