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Oakwood plans to finish I-985 beautification project
DOT approves plans for western side of Exit 16 interchange
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Oakwood has gotten the Georgia Department of Transportation’s OK to spend what’s left of a beautification grant dressing up Exit 16 at Interstate 985.

Last year, the South Hall city spent nearly half of a $50,000 Georgia Transportation Enhancement grant to spruce up the east side of the interchange off Mundy Mill Road.

“We came in at less cost because we did the work in-house,” City Manager Stan Brown said, “so all we had was the cost of the materials and the rental of the equipment.”

The city then proceeded to draw up plans for fixing up the western side of the interchange.

“We’ve got the design complete and the DOT has approved our request to amend the permit,” Brown said.

The landscaping, which will include trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses, will take place this fall.

The two-phase project “was part of our original plan anyway,” Brown said. “We just did not have enough funds to do it all by contract.”

Exit 16 serves as a major crossroads for Oakwood, with the DOT having completed a $75 million widening and improvement there a couple of years ago. That project also involved the construction of Exit 17 at Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway.

Funding for the grants comes from fees paid by outdoor advertising companies to the DOT for vegetation removal at outdoor advertising signs, according to the DOT.

Oakwood’s neighbor, Flowery Branch, also has received similar grants, putting new landscaping along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway between the southern city limits and Thurmon Tanner Parkway, another key entranceway to the city.

“We feel like this is an opportunity to make a good impression on people who are visiting the area,” former Oakwood City Planner Larry Sparks said in March 2011. “As they get off (I-985), they would have a nice view and a positive statement as far as entering the city.”

Georgia DOT has awarded more than $644,000 in enhancement grants, according to its website.

But the program’s 2012 call for applications has been canceled “due to a lack of funds.”

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