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DOT sets rural roads program hearings
Aug. 25, Sept. 1 open house meetings scheduled
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The state is giving Northeast Georgia's rural residents an opportunity to review the proposed fiscal 2012-2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program covering those areas.

Open house meetings are set for 5-7 p.m. Aug. 25 at Helen City Hall, 25 Alpenrosen St., and 5-7 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Jackson County Government Complex, 5000 Jackson Parkway, Jefferson.

Residents can view maps, discuss projects with Georgia Department of Transportation staff and formally offer comments.

The four-year program describes federally funded transportation projects for rural communities outside metropolitan areas.

Projects include new construction and maintenance for interstates, state routes and bridges.

Additional projects include bicycle and pedestrian projects, transportation enhancement projects and public transit projects.

The Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 hearings cover projects in Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union and White counties.
Counties in metropolitan areas, such as Hall and Forsyth, review projects through their respective metropolitan planning organizations.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization's policy committee voted last week to approve the area's 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, following a 1«-year process that included three public hearings.

The plan must be updated every four years to comply with federal air quality standards.

The committee also approved a Transportation Improvement Program that covers projects in the 2012-2017 time frame of the 2040 plan.

Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the DOT's Gainesville office, said the DOT holds public reviews on the rural projects every year, always looking ahead at the next four years.

All of the Northeast Georgia counties except Elbert and Jackson are in the 13-county Georgia Mountains region working on a projects list for next year's transportation 1 percent sales tax referendum.

Forsyth and Hall counties have the lion's share of projects on the list, which a 26-member regional roundtable starts to consider next week.