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Funds cleared for U.S. 129 widening, Cleveland bypass
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Area counties learned Thursday they will receive some $40 million to improve transportation.

The State Transportation Board voted today to spend $22 million on right-of-way acquisition in the widening of U.S. 129 through East Hall and into Jackson County.

"That is good news. It speaks volumes on the importance of this particular corridor connecting two interstates, helping truck traffic," said Srikanth Yamala, transportation planning manager for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.

However, the amount is only part of the projected amount for right-of-way costs. The total effort is expected to cost $35 million.

"We need to continue working with (the state Department of Transportation) in exploring additional funding opportunities," Yamala said.

The project calls for widening U.S. 129 from Gillsville Highway to the Pendergrass Bypass in Jackson County.

The Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization's Policy Committee has voted to give the project high priority if funding should become available.

The board also awarded nearly $17.8 million for construction of the long-awaited Cleveland Bypass.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story reported an incorrect dollar figure for the U.S. 129 project.