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Jackson County to go ahead with talks of I-85 interchange
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As part of the county's development of an updated comprehensive plan, Jackson County officials will be working with consultants to study Interstate 85 and to create a transportation plan.

At Monday's board of commissioners meeting, the commissioners unanimously approved an agreement with consultants from Moreland Altobelli and Associates to find a possible location for an I-85 corridor, among other transportation concerns.

"What we proposed to do is to form a comprehensive study of I-85 and identify what would be that location," said Don Clerici, Jackson County's capital projects manager.

The groundwork for the transportation plan began with a study conducted in 2003 that helped with the development of Ga. 60, which some people have said could be the next spot for a connection with I-85, Clerici said. However, no specific location has been determined as of yet, he said.

A transportation plan for the county will be beneficial in identifying the county's needs and places where roadways can be improved. The plan deals with the connectivity among the nine municipalities in Jackson County and integrating the transportation needs among these areas with the county's comprehensive land use plan.

"We've heard many times that we need alternate routes from Commerce to Nicholson to Jefferson," an issue that would be addressed in a transportation plan, Clerici said.

However, the plan's broad focus will not leave room for smaller quandaries about roads within the cities.
"Keep in mind our involvement with the cities relates with connectivity with the rest of the county. They may have issues with A Street and B Street ... but this countywide plan won't get into that kind of detail. We're going to look at (the county's) needs from a connectivity standpoint," Clerici said. Chairwoman Pat Bell said she was pleased to see the transportation plan become an active project.

"We have been talking about an interchange on I-85 for 12 years now," Bell said. "I'm just happy to see this get started."

The study should take at least 12 months and would be funded through the 2008 economic development bonds approved last year.