By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
A Franklin County Commissioner says he would like to see something done to make an abandoned rest stop on Interstate 85 more attractive.
Back in 2009, the Georgia Department of Transportation closed the rest stop on I-85 northbound near Exit 160.
At that time, Georgia DOT Spokesperson Teri Pope said the closure was one of a number of rest stop closures along I-85 and was due largely to increased vandalism and the high cost to the state of making repairs.
Franklin County Commissioner David Strickland now said since then, the property, which is still owned by the state, has fallen into disrepair.
Strickland said he believes it is giving motorists passing through Franklin County a bad impression and at a recent Franklin County Commission work session, he suggested the county come up with a way to clean it up.
“There’s no telling how many people go by that northbound rest area a year,” Strickland told the board last week. “That’s right there in Franklin County. When people start seeing something that looks abandoned and like it’s dying, that’s the picture they might get of our county.”
Strickland suggested getting volunteer groups to band together to clean it up.
“What I was looking at is trying to see if a Historical Society or Garden Club could come in,” Strickland said. “Like at Tugaloo State Park, they put out for bids every year for a group to run the concession stand. We could do the same thing with that up there. All they would have to do is keep the grass cut, keep toiletries there and keep it nice.”
Strickland said by re-opening the rest stop and cleaning it up, it could help attract more tourism to Franklin County.
However, Franklin County Commissioner Jeff Jacques pointed out that while the rest stop needs to be cleaned up, it is not the county’s property or responsibility.
Georgia DOT Spokesperson Teri Pope said her office has not been contacted by anyone in FranklinCounty government about the rest stop, but adds the DOT would be willing to discuss a plan of action.
“Anytime the county has an issue or concern regarding a facility, we would really like to hear from them first and find out what the issue is,” Pope said. “This is the first we’re hearing about it and have not heard from anybody on the Franklin County Commission about the rest area.
Pope said typically, county governments send letters asking for help with a problem.
However, she said the DOT has not received any such letter from Franklin County.
In the meantime, the Franklin County Commission made no decision about contacting the DOT to request the property be cleaned up.