DALTON, Ga.-State Rep. John Meadows saved the voice mail telling him officials are acquiring the right of way to build a new interchange on Interstate 75 in Gordon County.
"It was music to my ears; this has been my pet project for so many years," said Meadows, R-Calhoun. "I said 'thank you' and then ''bout time.'"
For more than 20 years - three years as a Calhoun city councilman, 131/2 as mayor of Calhoun, six in state office - Meadows has worked to have an interchange built at Union Grove Road between exits 312 and 306.
"It takes a long time to get everyone on the same page when you are dealing with a federal and state and local project," he said. "Apparently, 20 years isn't that unusual, they tell me. Mohawk [carpet manufacturer] built their distribution center on the promise that the interchange would be built - that was in '92 or '93."
The pro-ject has received state and federal funding approval to widen Union Grove Road and put in a diamond interchange. After the right of way is acquired, the project is scheduled to be bid out in September, according to Mohamed Arafa, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Arafa said construction will cost about $19 million, with 80 percent federal funding and a 20 percent state match. The work probably will take two to three years, he said.
Jimmy Phillips, president of the Gordon Chamber of Commerce, said he believes the project will take more time because of the size of the interchange.
The interchange will allow trucks from the Shaw and Mohawk carpet distribution centers in southern Gordon County to get on and off I-75 much more easily and will encourage other industries to locate in the area, Phillips said.
"The community has been waiting for 20 years," he said. "From a business standpoint, we support it and look forward to its completion."
The interchange also will lessen traffic on state Highway 53, the road truck drivers now use to reach the distribution centers and other area businesses, officials said.
"I'm truly grateful we are finally rolling forward - I see the light at the end of the tunnel," Meadows said.