(WTVM) - More visitors could be stopping by to explore the Valley after the Georgia Department of Transportation gives tens of thousands of dollars to Columbus and Troup County for beautification projects.
The Georgia Department of Transportation raised money from advertisers to cut down over-grown vegetation that creeps up on road side billboards and signs, and now that money is going back into the community.
There are 17 cities and counties across Georgia that are expecting more than half a million dollars in funding to help spruce up their communities. The Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Council was formerly called the Gateway Grant, but the goal is the same...impress drivers, roadtrippers and commuters for more citywide economic prosperity.
"It kind of draws the attention, and it makes the area more inviting and welcoming for somebody who may be traveling through from point A to B to actually pull over and stop and see what your town has to offer," said Kimberly Larson with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Columbus was awarded more than $32,000, and funds will go towards a facelift for 2nd Avenue and 18th Street. City leaders envision new shrubs, greenery and a concrete welcome sign.
An even bigger chunk of change is heading Troup County's way, with $50,000 to spend on improving exit 13 off I-85. Community developers in LaGrange tell us the project shouldn't cause any traffic delays, or detours, and add the improvement will be beautiful and safe.
"It's all low vegetation, vegetative planting that we're doing. Nothing that would obstruct the traveler's view, or nothing like hard stationary that if a vehicle traveled off the road and struck, would cause injury to individuals...so it is no hardscape, it is all softscape," said Alton West, Director of Community Development for LaGrange.
Lagrange officials also they will begin their landscaping project this upcoming Fall when rains provide a good planting season.
The money for all 17 counties and cities across the state can be used for plant material, sod, topsoil, mulch and labor costs.