Some of the initial work on the Highway 17 widening and relocation project in Stephens County is underway.
Georgia Department of Transportation Spokesperson Teri Pope said crews started doing some work this week.
“Work began on Monday,” said Georgia Department of Transportation spokesperson Teri Pope. “The contractor started clearing so work has officially begun. You’re going to see that clearing take awhile because with the rains we want to do it slowly and make sure we don’t have erosion problems with the clear cutting of the path for the new roadway.”
Pope said the clearing work currently underway will not affect traffic on the current Highway 17.
The Georgia Department of Transportation awarded the Highway 17 project to C.W. Matthews Contracting, Inc. of Marietta, Georgia in April.
C.W. Matthews is expected to build the project in two simultaneous phases, a northern phase and a southern phase.
Pope said that part of the project will widen the current road to four lanes, while part of the project will involve building a completely new four-lane highway.
“We’re widening to a four-lane divided highway and parts of it will not take the same route as the current roadway. For example we’re not going through the town of Martin as the current 17 route does. We will be going outside of the town of Martin to build that four-lane,” Pope said.
The complete project will cost just over $66 million for about 10.5 miles of work from about the Stephens-Franklin County line to near Memorial Drive in Toccoa.
Construction is expected to take until 2016.
Local officials have indicated that a groundbreaking ceremony will be scheduled, but a date for that has not been determined yet.
(MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia contributed to this report)