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GDOT taking new ideas for road improvements
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Open house

What: Public comment on long-range improvement projects
When: 5-7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Helen’s city hall, 25 Alpenrosen Strasse
More info: To learn more about the State Improvement Program projects, visit Banks, Dawson, Habersham, Jackson, Lumpkin, Union and White counties are among the affected counties in Northeast Georgia.

When it comes to planning for long-range improvement projects, the Georgia Department of Transportation is hoping to get input from the community.

During an open house Tuesday in Jefferson, the department reviewed a proposed list of projects for the STIP - State Transportation Improvement Program.

The program provides a proposed outline of transportation and capital improvement projects in rural areas across the state for the next four fiscal years.

Locally, Banks, Dawson, Habersham, Jackson, Lumpkin, Union and White counties are included in the program's scope.

"We are trying to make sure that our list of priorities matches what a community thinks is most important," said Teri Pope, GDOT spokeswoman.

"Our goal is to show the bigger picture - it's not necessarily project specific."

Plans for the program outline how much each phase of a project is expected to cost. It also gives an anticipated timeline for the projects.

Although the list contains projects for a four-year period, it is updated annually.

The current outline contains all anticipated projects that would receive federal funding during the 2011 to 2014 fiscal years.

"Most of our projects are maintenance related. New construction costs a lot more, so there are fewer new projects," Pope said.

"We also want to be sure that we're able to take care of what we have, so maintaining our infrastructure is our highest priority."

Some of the proposed projects include a community trailway in Dawson, a bridge rehabilitation over Curry Creek in Jackson and sidewalk improvements in Habersham.

Because this is a continual program, some of the projects that are being proposed are carry-overs from previous STIP lists, Pope said.

From design to construction, it can take around six to eight years to complete a single project.

The public will have another opportunity to comment on the proposed STIP projects during an open house Thursday in Helen.

Comments will also be accepted online through Sept. 12.