The Valdosta Daily Times
Officials from the City of Valdosta and Lowndes County gathered Friday afternoon at the intersection of Wilson Drive and North Patterson Street to cut a yellow and pink ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new Gornto Road Extension.
City Manager Larry Hanson, stepped up to the podium and pointed out that since the city's roads were laid out 152 years ago, it has never had a true east-west corridor until now. Hanson also said that this route will not only help east-west traffic, but also north -south traffic. “This project was not intended for speed, but for efficiency and character,” Hanson said.
Mayor John Gayle proclaimed, “This is a great day for SPLOST projects; that one penny does a lot.” He thanked many people for their hard efforts in the planning, designing, and constructing of this extension.
Concluding his speech, Gayle said, “Once this road opens on Tuesday morning, the community will benefit greatly, and hopefully we can pass SPLOST VII so we can do more projects like this in the near future.”
Pat Collins, city engineer, announced that this project came in under budget, but was unsure of the exact amount. Collins thanked the business and property owners, and said, “We [the city] did what we could to to accommodate your needs, and hopefully this road will benefit your business as much as it will benefit the community.”
Chairman of the Barber Trust Advisory Board, Carla Penny, took the stage. She announced that in 2012, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber planted 100 trees around Valdosta to celebrate the 100 years the Chamber has operated in Valdosta. The final 35 trees were planted along the Gornto Road Extension.
Collins said, “This project was identified in the city's adopted Comprehensive Transportation Master Plan in 2008, and we are pleased to see the project come to fruition for the benefit of our traveling public.”
The $1.9 million extension was paid for with SPLOST VI revenue, which includes drainage improvements, utility adjustments, right of way acquisitions and intersection alignment. The road is expected to ease traffic congestion on Northside Drive and Jerry Jones Road, while providing motorists faster access to the large commercial area near the Valdosta Mall.
The road will not open until Tuesday, Oct. 22. Collins noted, “State laws require new signals to operate in flash mode for several days and you can’t put them into operation on Fridays or Mondays.”
One Lowndes County resident, Gelana Goddard, was so delighted about the opening of the extension, she plans to be the first person on the road when it opens at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning.
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