For those folks who use a small Park and Ride lot in Braselton, they’ll soon have to rethink their commute to metro Atlanta. The 28-space lot — located at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 124 and Ga. Hwy. 211 in Barrow County — is slated to close when construction begins for a major road project in the area. A company is also proposing a big gas station and store at the spot.
Already, there is another transportation option further south on Interstate 85 for commuters.
Across the state, Park and Ride lots are available for motorists to leave their vehicles while they commute with another person. The RideSmart program is one service that matches commuters with potential carpool partners by using Park and Ride lots.
Braselton’s lone Park and Ride lot has been available for at least five years, according to Teri Pope, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
But, now, there’s another Park and Ride lot in the Hamilton Mill area that was designed, in part, to accommodate commuters from Braselton and beyond.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) recently worked with the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) to open a 918-space Park and Ride lot on Sardis Church Road, near a Walmart in the Hamilton Mill area.
The GRTA has a partnership with Xpress, a public commuter transportation service that provides work-day alternatives for commuters in a 13-county region.
With the new Hamilton Mill Park and Ride, Xpress has two routes available to commuters — Route 411 to Midtown (with a stop at the Mall of Georgia) and Route 413 to Downtown Atlanta.
Both routes use high occupancy toll lanes along I-85 to their destinations and make six trips to metro Atlanta in the mornings. The Midtown route makes six trips in the afternoons and the downtown route makes seven. The cost is $4 for a one-way ride or $7 round-trip (exact cash only).
Buses operate Mondays through Fridays and complete details are available at www.xpressga.com.
The Hamilton Mill Park and Ride lot can also be used by commuters who are carpooling together, although it’s not recommended that motorists leave their vehicles parked there overnight, according to William Mecke, a spokesperson for GRTA.
The opening of the new Hamilton Mill Park and Ride means commuters in Braselton will have an alternative when that town’s Park and Ride lot closes for a major road construction project.
The DOT plans to widen the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 124 and Ga. Hwy. 211 — a $5.7 million project with construction possibly on tap this winter or spring 2012.
Once completed, the intersection will have additional turn lanes on both state highways, new sidewalks and an upgraded traffic signal that will “interconnect” the signals at the ramps of nearby I-85, according to Pope.
“Overall, it will greatly improve the movement through the interchange and intersection,” she said Thursday.
The DOT has purchased all of the property it needs for the project and is set to accept bids in late October. Then, the agency will review the bids and how to proceed with the project, according to Pope.
If it awards the project to a contractor, it may take about two months for that contractor to get his personnel, equipment and materials ready to start the work, she added. That would put a construction start date in winter, but the contractor may wait until spring 2012 to begin.
Currently, the DOT has no plans to add more Park and Ride lots in Jackson County, Pope said. Besides the Hamilton Mill lot, there is also a 750-space Park and Ride at the Mall of Georgia and a recently-expanded 750-lot on Ga. Hwy. 20 and Interstate-985 in Buford.
The Braselton Park and Ride lot is expected to close when construction starts on the Ga. Hwy. 124/Ga. Hwy. 211 intersection project, Pope said.
Already, there are plans to develop the existing site of the Park and Ride into a large gas station and store.
RaceTrac Petroleum, Inc., wants to develop on a two-acre site at the intersection. Dewey White owns an 11-acre tract at the intersection that includes the Park and Ride, and has a contract with RaceTrac for the development, according to planning documents submitted to Braselton.
Most RaceTracs feature 20-24 fueling stations and a 5,000 square-foot or larger convenience store, according to the company’s website. It has 320 stores in five Southeastern states.
The company is seeking several variances for the property, which is located in the town’s Ga. Hwy. 211 overlay district. The Braselton Zoning Board of Appeals is set to hear the proposal on Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m.