Business owners say trade has been brisk along U.S. Highway 41 from the Tennessee-Georgia line to Cloud Springs Road since it was widened to four lanes more than a year ago.
And Catoosa County officials said they anticipate the eventual widening of the entire corridor from Cloud Springs to state Highway 151 in Ringgold, Ga., near Interstate 75.
That widened highway could develop into "another Battlefield Parkway," officials said.
"We have seen a tremendous increase as far as business and traffic" since Georgia completed the $8 million project on 1.4-miles of old Dixie Highway, said Chris Adams, owner of Corner Pocket convenience store.
"When they finish it, it should be great. People will be able to use 41 as a shortcut to the freeway when traffic is backed up on Cloud Springs," he said.
Widening of Cloud Springs Road (state Route 146) is under way in two parts, both of which are expected to be completed by year's end, said Dr. Mohamad Arafa, District 6 communications officer for the Georgia Department of Transportation in Cartersville, Ga. "They are both on schedule and on budget."
Widening of U.S. 41 to state Highway 151 is on the state's books but not yet funded, Dr. Arafa said. There are also plans to continue the widening south to Campbell Road in Whitfield County, he said. Funding is not secured for that phase either, he said.
"The first portion, between Cloud Springs and Highway 151, we hope to start right of way acquisitions sometime in 2012, depending on funding," Dr. Arafa said.
Catoosa Commissioner Bobby Winters said widening U.S. 41 will be a boon to the area.
"I would say it would be a draw," Mr. Winters said. "Any four-lane road will attract businesses."
With Cloud Springs Road and U.S. 41 both four-lane roads with turn lanes, all the area needs is sewers, Fort Oglethorpe City Manager Ron Goulart said.
"That will help us tremendously, especially when Cloud Springs is finished," Mr. Goulart said. "It will go all the way to the interstate, then Highway 41 would be a four-lane from Lakeview Drive. It would give us a four-lane highway all the way to Tennessee."
Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold officials earlier this year drew boundaries for sewer responsibility. Fort Oglethorpe's area includes the Cloud Springs/U.S. 41 section. The General Assembly passed private act legislation to give Fort Oglethorpe ownership of Cloud Springs Road. It awaits Gov. Sonny Perdue's signature to become law.
"Once the governor signs it, we will start some preliminary designs on sewer and prioritize it and decide how we are going to seek funding," Mr. Goulart said.
Federal stimulus money is a possibility but not likely, Mr. Goulart said.
"There are so many hoops to jump through, it's almost not feasible to try to go for it," Mr. Goulart said.
Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb recently returned from a visit with the governor where he learned that many city projects do not meet federal guidelines to be eligible for stimulus money, city officials said.