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12-30-01 - U.S. 441 Widening (Jackson, Oconee & Morgan), GRIP, GARVEE BONDS

(U S 441) is critical length to I -20 between the Watkinsville By-Pass in Oconee County and the Madison By-Pass in Morgan County

AVOC

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December 30, 2001

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U.S. 441 Widening (Jackson, Oconee & Morgan), GRIP, GARVEE BONDS

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By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc

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On December 29, 2001, the Athens Banner-Herald carried a headline story: ‘(U.S. 441) Widening project gets put in fast lane.’   This story is good news for Jackson County and Northeast GA.  It brings us all closer to I-85.

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However, it ignores the critical length to I -20 between the Watkinsville By-Pass in Oconee County and the Madison By-Pass in Morgan County. We all need to be alert and aggressive in pursuing this critical and important transportation link in Northeast GA.A north-south four-lane between Interstates 85 and 20 is a very worthy goal and will fill a vital safety and economic need for our area.


SEE (05/23/01 - ROADS, BONDS, GRIP, U S 441 & NORTHEAST GEORGIA

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The Athens Banner-Herald

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Saturday, December 29, 2001

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(U.S. 441) Widening project gets put in fast lane

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By Janis Reid

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   U.S. Highway 441 widening projects in Jackson County could begin as soon as 2004, much earlier than anticipated, thanks to bond funds made available in November.
   U.S. 441 and Georgia Highways 17 and 72 are part of the statewide Governor's Road Improvement Plan (GRIP), which includes more than 15 corridors throughout Georgia.
   The goal of GRIP is to bring a four-lane, divided highway within 20 miles of every Georgia resident.
More than $ 200 million in bonds were issued in November, clearing the way for right-of-way acquisition on two sections of U.S. 441 in Jackson County to begin immediately, according to Teri Pope, spokeswoman in the state Department of Transportation's District 1 office.
   The Georgia General Assembly voted in March in favor of legislation to speed construction on the entire project with borrowed money, pledging bonds against taxpayer transportation funds that are anticipated to come from the federal government in coming years.
   The bill will provide $ 150 million to the GRIP program each year until the entire project is complete.
The bond funding has accelerated GRIP projects, which will be finished in seven years, rather than the 20 years originally scheduled.
The local U.S. 441 projects are among the first to receive money because much of the four-laning of the route in Northeast Georgia is already complete, according to Pope.
''U.S. 441 is unusual as a GRIP route because finishing it is like connecting the dots,'' Pope said. ''It was much easier to pick and finish it.''
   Locally, improvements to two sections of U.S. 441 -- between the Clarke County line and Nicholson, and between Nicholson and Commerce -- should begin in 2004. The remaining sections of U.S. 441 in Clarke, Oconee and Franklin counties are already complete. (NO!)
   The four-laning of sections of Ga. 17 and Ga. 72 in Northeast Georgia has also been accelerated, but construction is not expected to begin until after 2005, Pope said.


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