Category Archives: Franklin

Franklin and Stephens Counties… Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Opening of $85 Million Dollar Projects

Opening of state Route 17 with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) along with the Stephens County Development Authority and the Toccoa Chamber of Commerce celebrated the opening of state Route 17 at an official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony this morning.

GDOT District Engineer Brent Cook joined by Senator John Wilkinson, Representative Dan Gasaway, Stephens County Commission Chairman Dennis Bell and Toccoa’s Mayor, Evan Hellenga recognized the progress of the two projects that broke ground in 2013.

The two projects that created the new four lane divided highway takes drivers through Franklin and Stephens Counties. State Route 17 from south of the Franklin County line to Scott Road, represents a total investment of $54,706,018.15.The northern project that begins at Scott Road and ends at Memorial Drive carries a total investment $30,495.838.58.

C.W. Mathews of Marietta, was awarded both projects, in March 2013. “I’d like to say thank you to our partners, C.W. Matthews, who worked diligently and remained an ally in making this a safe and efficient corridor,” said GDOT District Engineer, Brent Cook. “It’s always refreshing to see a project that will change the lives of the citizens and open up new economic opportunities for a community.”

State Route 17 was designated as part of the Governor’s Road Improvement Program (GRIP) in 1989. This legislation designated SR 17 as an economic development corridor in Northeast Georgia and mandated all GRIP corridors be upgraded to four lane divided highways. The 18 GRIP Corridors statewide will ultimately ensure that 98% of Georgia’s cities will be within 20 miles of a four lane divided highway.


Lavonia, GA – The Georgia Welcome Center on Interstate 85 south in Lavonia is not welcoming, for now. It is closed until September 13, 2015 for renovations. The signage pointing visitors to the Welcome Center are covered and the entrance is blocked.

Major renovations are now underway to make the Welcome Center Welcoming – replacing most major systems in the building. “Improvements will be made from the roof to the parking lot and down to the water lines, improvements. New HVAC, new drywall and painting are all part of the renovations. The Welcome Center will also become more environmentally responsible with low flow, automatic flush valve toilets, LED lighting inside and outside. The new inside lights will have occupancy sensors so the lights will turn off automatically,” explained Georgia DOT District Engineer serving Hart County, Brent Cook.

The 16,640 square foot Welcome Center opened in 1996.

Prime Contractors of Powder Springs will be doing the work for $720,000. The Welcome Center will reopen by September 13 or sooner. Motorists will not be able to access the Welcome Center driveway, parking areas or building during the July 20 to September 13 construction time.