published Monday, March 29th, 2010

Whitfield receives funds for byway


by Kelly Jackson
Audio clip

Mike Babb

DALTON, Ga. -- Three stops along the 54-mile Cohutta-Chattahoochee Scenic Byway soon will be dressed up for visitors.

Whitfield County officials have worked since 2002 to secure federal funds to install interpretive kiosks, landscaping and other features at pull-offs for Prater's Mill on Highway 2, the Cohutta Fish Hatchery on Red Clay Road and Fort Mountain on Highway 52, County Commission Chairman Mike Babb said.

Commissioners voted last week to sign off on an agreement for the project.

Mr. Babb said the project will improve the stops, but work also will be done to other areas to make the route more attractive for visitors.

"People are always looking for bike trails, places to ride bikes, scenic byways and tourism," he said.

The county is receiving $325,550 through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The federal money is channeled through the Georgia Department of Transportation and requires a local match of about $81,400, according to the agreement.

Mr. Babb said Whitfield County will pay two-thirds of the local match and Murray County will contribute one-third for the Fort Mountain stop.

Dick Barnes, land use administrator for Murray County, said the project will improve the overlook at the top of Fort Mountain.

"The whole area is not in very good shape," he said. "It will look a lot better than it does now."

Judy Alderman, president of the Prater's Mill Foundation, said volunteers worked hard to plan for the stop there.

"(The scenic byway) is designed to keep people off the busy highways and enjoy a more leisurely drive and to bring attention to the beautiful rural areas," she said.

Murray County Administrator Robert McLeod said the agreement now must go back to the state transportation department for final approval, and after that the county can begin the bidding process for construction.

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