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Update of Ga. 400 intersection irks business owners
Transportation representatives answer questions about the construction of the states first continuous flow intersection at Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 that is planned to begin in spring. - photo by Michele Hester

DAWSONVILLE — The changes planned for the crossing at Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 has the owner of a local restaurant wondering how he'll be able to stay in business.

"You're taking my main entrance," Darin Muenchow, owner of Big D's Barbecue, told state transportation representatives during a recent meeting. "You can't get in to my restaurant."

Speaking to a capacity crowd during the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon, Kimberly Nesbitt with the department of transportation said she knew there were concerns about business access.

She also said DOT has worked to address those and that the plan to install displaced left lanes on Ga. 400 is the best model for its crossing at Hwy. 53.

"I understand the business community has concerns," she said. "A grade separating interchange would have been way more damaging to this area."

Muenchow said he wasn't buying the state's response.

"If you think for one minute [that] I believe you guys care about those business, I don't," he said.

"Everybody that's on that corner, if they believed this was going to help us, McDonalds wouldn't be moving, Kroger wouldn't be suing you and everybody else wouldn't be trying to figure out where we're going to go when we're out of business."

Last year, management at McDonald's confirmed the national eatery is planning to move.

"No land has been purchased yet, but McDonalds Corporate is planning to move the restaurant," said Jamie Smith, manager.

There have also been discussions about Kroger relocating south on Ga. 400 to one of the future retail centers planned on Dawson Forest Road, though officials with the grocer have declined to comment on the matter.

Glynn Jenkins, a spokesperson for the grocer, said Kroger's real estate team was "not aware of a lawsuit between Kroger Dawsonville and the DOT."

The department, however, is currently in a legal battle with the businesses in the Ingles’ shopping center regarding right of way, according to court records.

Teri Pope, a DOT spokeswoman, said she could not comment "on right-of-way acquisition except with the property owner until after construction of the project is complete."

Described as the most economic option at an estimated $9.5 million, the DOT has purchased 32 plots of land needed to complete the crossing.

"Under this project, we were able to do the majority of the work with the existing right of way," Nesbitt said.

Construction is set to begin in spring on the state's first continuous flow intersection, which is predicted to reduce traffic congestion by 85 percent.