2018-05-31 / Front Page

First lane shifts on Hwy. 17 may happen in the coming 5-6 weeks


This aerial view taken by GDOT Safety Officer Larry Morris shows the old (on the right) and the new Highway 17 looking toward Thomson just west of the entrance to Aonia Pass. This aerial view taken by GDOT Safety Officer Larry Morris shows the old (on the right) and the new Highway 17 looking toward Thomson just west of the entrance to Aonia Pass. Travelers on Highway 17 between Washington and Thomson are not far from experiencing some partial shifts from the old road to the new road as construction moves into its next phase of the dual project.

Sometime between mid-June and the Fourth of July, Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) engineers expect to direct traffic onto new pavement and new bridges so that the current lanes can be closed for rebuilding and bridge construction.

The entire project is actually two projects going on at the same time. The more southern project, on the Thomson end, is some seven miles long, contains four bridges, and will cost $32 million, according to Caleb Lord, Area 3 Manager for the DOT. That part of the project is about 35- 40 percent complete.


Rotarian John Griffin hosted Kyle Collins and Caleb Lord who talked about progress being made on Highway 17 between Washington and Thomson. Rotarian John Griffin hosted Kyle Collins and Caleb Lord who talked about progress being made on Highway 17 between Washington and Thomson. The northern project is about 10 miles long and begins just east of the Washington-Wilkes County Club golf course. It contains two bridges and some of the most dramatic shifts in road layout. It is about 60 percent complete, Lord said, and will cost about $42 million.

The entire divided four-lane highway connecting Washington and Thomson to I-20 is expected to be complete in the early fall of 2019.

Speaking to the Washington Rotary Club, Lord credited the voters of this region with funding for the two projects. A few years ago, voters approved the Transportation Improvement Act (TIA) which allows for a special sales tax to be used for projects within the region. Only three of the state’s regions approved the tax and it has already proved beneficial for Wilkes County. Receipts from the T-SPLOST have averaged $79,699 per month for last the 12 months, totalling almost $1 million in the past year.

T-SPLOST (or TIA) funding is also currently being used to replace the bridge at Fishing Creek on the Sandtown Road in Wilkes County.

Also speaking to the club, District 2 Communications Specialist Kyle Collins pointed out that roadside assistance on the new road, when it is completed, will be available to travelers through CHAMPS by calling 511 when assistance is needed. He and Lord further promoted the use of roundabouts instead of flat, crossing intersections on the state’s roads.

Accidents at flat, right-angle crossings are more likely to be hard T-bone crushing blows while those in roundabouts tend to be glancing blows at lower speeds, causing fewer and less severe injuries.

Return to top