Stephens County receives word that the long-awaited widening of Highway 17 is taking another step forward.
Tuesday, Stephens County Commissioner Dean Scarborough announced that he had received word from the Governor’s Office that Phase Two of the Highway 17 widening project was being moved up on the DOT’s timeline.
Scarborough said the Governor’s Office informed him that Phase Two, which would widen Highway 17 to four lanes between Scott Road and Memorial Drive in Stephens County, will be let next month.
Meanwhile, Phase One of the Highway 17 widening project, which would make 17 four lanes between Scott Road and the Franklin County line, will be let this month.
Scarborough said that letting the projects is by no means the final step, but adds that it is an important one.
“Letting of the contract means that is when they advertise it for bids,” said Scarborough. “Of course, they have to get suitable bids before they actually award contracts. They can pull all of the bids and not award the contracts, so there are a lot of different things (that could happen).”
According to Scarborough, state officials informed him that the DOT has found funding for both projects in this fiscal year.
He said that means Phases One and Two can be constructed at the same time, rather than waiting for Phase One to be complete before Phase Two could begin.
Scarborough said this announcement from the Governor’s Office is big news for Stephens County.
“This is huge,” said Scarborough. “This is good news to start 2013. This community has waited for this for a long, long time. That does not mean we are fixing to go into construction, but it is a step closer. There are so many people over the years that have put a lot in to getting this project in the forefront of the DOT. There are a lot of people at the DOT that have helped keep it in front, especially recently, including the recent Planning Director, the current Planning Director. We are very thankful to Todd Long, the former Planning Director. We are thankful for those that are there now, the governor’s office for the work they have done, the Legislature.”
Scarborough said the widening project is not just good news for Stephens County, but for the entire region. He noted that it will provide more direct, four-lane access to Interstate 85 north for areas of northeast Georgia.