The pink route is the existing collection of collector roads that make up the proposed route. The light blue lines indicate the road improvements necessary to make it useful as a route.
It is obvious that at some point in the past that some effort was made to connect the roads to create a by-pass. As recently as a decade ago, a new connection that would eliminate two turns was proposed between Cavender Creek Road and Frogtown Road, Longbranch Road Extension was built, and Frogtown Road was realigned south of Cavender Creek Road. It seems that since the 90's, any further efforts to improve this route have been aborted. It is unsurprising considering that a proposal in the 1970's to extend GA 400 all the way to Neels Gap failed, and I'm sure opposition to the project in such a pristine area was a factor. Another post will deal with this issue in the future where I describe how to realign US 19/129 through the area without disturbing the scenery and recreation around Neels Gap.
ROAD PROJECTS TO IMPROVE THE CONNECTION
Fortunately, a solution exists that is not terribly expensive to upgrade this road so that it may serve as a true by-pass route east of Dahlonega. This includes a shorter, cheaper realignment than the one originally proposed and two intersection realignments that will at least cut down on the number of turns in the interim until further upgrades can be made. The projects are as follows:
1. A new connector extending from Copper Mines Road to Town Creek Church Road. It would begin south of Cavender Creek Road and tie into Town Creek Church Road north of the sharp curve south of the Chestatee River bridge. This is proposed as a cheaper alternative to the proposed route extending from Frogtown Road to Cavender Creek Road, and it would extend for approximately 1.29 miles.
2. A realignment of the intersection of Frogtown Road and Town Creek Church Road to make the primary movement from Town Creek Church Road south to Frogtown Road north. This would not only correct the primary movement, but would better align the roadways with their functional classification.
4. Restriping the intersection of Frogtown Road and Lewis School Road to remove turns onto Frogtown Road. The intersection as configured makes this upgrade possible at minimal cost.
Currently Frogtown Road intersects at an acute angle into Lewis School Road (on the right). This project restripes the road so that traffic for Lewis School Road must turn instead.
Longer term projects are as follows:
1. Improve the connection between Damascus Church Road at US 19. Both projects would involve two lane improvements. One is longer, but the other requires a new bridge over Chestatee River. This involves one of two options:
- Realign Damascus Church Road onto a new roadway south of the current road between U.S. 19 and Frogtown Road. This is an operational improvement that creates a safer road and intersection with U.S. 19. It would be located on the opposite side of the ridge that Damascus Church currently follows. If this option is chosen, U.S. 19 would need to be realigned between Damascus Church Road and U.S. 129 to eliminate sharp curves.
- Extend Frogtown Road north to merge into U.S. 129 at Turners Corner. This would most likely end in a roundabout with U.S. 129 just south of the current intersection with U.S. 19
New roadway option (approximately 2.49 miles)
Existing road realignment (0.9 miles of new construction) and U.S. 19/GA 9 relocation (0.24 miles)
2. Realign Copper Mines Road between Longbranch Road Extension and Cavender Creek Road to eliminate sharp curves
4. Four lane GA 115 from GA 52 to GA 60 as an extension of GA 400.
5. Construct passing lanes on portions of the new state route between GA 52/115 and US 19/GA 9.
It is worth noting that all of these projects are considered two lane road improvements. They would not be part of GA 400, and they would not be built in lieu of the proposed plan by White County to extend GA 400 to Cleveland. They would simply tie into the proposed route to create a suitable alternative for through traffic on U.S. 19 to avoid Cleveland and Dahlonega using a streamlined version of the roads that are already there.
NEW STATE AND US ROUTES
When completed, US 19 should be shifted from the current route through Dahlonega onto the new highway with the overlapping state designation as GA 249. GA 249 was chosen due to its history in the area on what is now GA 60 (it was changed in the 1950's). The current US 19 through Dahlonega would be reclassified as US 19 Alt. US 19 Business would be changed to GA 9 Business only if not removed entirely from the state system. If there is a vested interest in keeping mainline US 19 on the current route, then the new route would be designated U.S. 19 Alt instead.