Year In Review 2013: Ground Broken on New Hwy. 17

The end of another year is upon us, which means it is time to take a look at some of the top stories from the last 12 months in Toccoa and Stephens County.

One of those top stories was the start of construction on a four-lane Highway 17 in Stephens County.

The project will make 17 a four-lane road all the way from the Stephens County-Franklin County line to Memorial Drive in Toccoa.

Bids were awarded in the Spring and work started soon after.

Officials say they believe the project will boost economic development.

Stephens County Development Authority Executive Director Tim Martin is among them.

“It means that we will have direct, four-lane access to one of the major interstate corridors in the United States,” said Martin back in April.  “All kinds of commerce travels up and down Interstate 85 and we will have direct access to that.  We fully expect to have our project activity increase because of this.”

The official groundbreaking for the Highway 17 project took place in September.

“It is a big moment for Stephens County, but also for this northeast Georgia area,” said Stephens County Commissioner Dean Scarborough at the groundbreaking ceremony.  “It is (also) a big moment for Highway 17 up and down the corridor.  I know there are some communities down 17 that very much want to connect with the four-lane access just like we wanted to for many, many years.”

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal also spoke at the September groundbreaking.

Construction is costing just over $66 million and is set to be complete in 2016.

For more on this and other top stories during the last 12 months, tune in to AM 630 WNEG’s “Year in Review News Program” this week.

It will air Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and Friday at 4:30 p.m.