A Georgia highway project will expand more than the lanes on Highway 27; it will also expand economic development in the region.
Today's ground breaking ceremony kicked off the first fully-funded Transportation Investment Act Project in the River Valley region.
"This project started 25 plus years ago and I’m the only legislator that's left in the general assembly that was there when we decided to do this," Georgia Representative Gerald Green said.
The $31 million dollar project will widen Highway 27 to four lanes.
"It's like the fulfillment of a dream. When I first moved to Cuthbert there was the two lane road from here to Dothan, to Blakely to Columbus to every place and now to see a four lane and to be able to drive it is just marvelous," Cuthbert Tourism Committee member Glenda Bates said.
The money for the project comes from the state instead of federal funding.
46 counties came together to approve the T.I.A project in 2012.
"I think they realize the importance of investing in yourself and making sure that you're ready for business and ready for a workforce that's out here," Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden said.
These counties expect to self - generate $1.8 billion in new revenue dedicated to local transportation improvements.
"I think this means a lot, it means that there are opportunities to invest in transportation and invest in economic development," Golden said.
"We have a number of prospects in Randolph County, Early County, and Miller County. We're hoping this will be the push to finally make the decision for those companies to come to our area," Early County Commissioner June Merritt said.
The highway has been designated as a freight highway for Georgia as well.
"It means a great deal because people can access us much easier, we'll have access to other parts of the country and finally I hope some of this I75 traffic will move to Highway 27," Bates said.
The project is expected to be finished by 2016.
The Oxford Construction Company was awarded the contract for widening the highway.