VALDOSTA -- Lowndes County is preparing to become part of a $20 million transportation improvement plan led by Georgia's Department of Transportation.

On Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners approved a proposal for the concept design and planning for the county's contribution that will involve widening U.S. 41.

Robert Gardner, head of construction operations, said about 7.5 miles from North Valdosta Road to State Road 122 will be expanded on the two-way highway.

"We're putting together our ideas and concepts to present to the Georgia DOT," Gardner said.

Designs for Lowndes County's portion of the project will be submitted at the DOT's Feb. 23 meeting. The submission will include aerial photos, environmental documentation and final design construction plans.

"We want to get designing and coordinate developments that's been anticipated for many years," Gardner said. "Of course, the economic impact is equally important."

Gardner said there is concern for Valwood along the stretch of road because of traffic on U.S. 41 that has increased by upcoming subdivisions at the school.

"We're continuing to increase with development. It's just an old two-way highway that we're planning to bring into the 21st century," Gardner said. "This project will be addressing transportation 25 years into the future."

In other minutes, the Board of Commissioners voted to update the county's Local Emergency Operations Plan. The new plan will include more emphasis on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and a more complete list of natural hazards affecting Lowndes County.

After 9/11, Georgia Tech and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency focused on addressing emergency response to terrorism in the plan, which was updated from 1999.

Commissioners also approved plans for a water line extension on Bemiss Road that will serve the addition of 395 homes at Moody Air Force Base, upon their completion in June.

An approved design for the water line extension will cost $32,100, and the low bid for the construction of the new water main will cost about $505,000. Both will be paid with special purpose local option sales tax funds.

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