Georgiana hopes completion of Hwy. 55 will spur growth - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Georgiana hopes completion of Hwy. 55 will spur growth

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GEORGIANA, AL (WSFA) -

Georgiana is less than three months away from opening what it considers a new road crucial to future growth. It's the final leg of Highway 55 that will connect to the part of Highway 55 that's already 4 laned and built some 20 years ago.

Kirby Blackburn runs a business about a mile from the final phase under construction. Blackburn says he's not the least bit concerned about traffic being re-routed away from his convenience store.

"Not at all because most of my customers are local and good people," said Blackburn.

Billy Matthews isn't so sure. Matthews owns Georgiana Flower Shop on Highway 106 just below the cut-off where 106 intersects 55. One traffic count shows 5,500 vehicles coming through Georgiana everyday with many of them headed to the beach.

"I expect I'll lose around 3% of my business but most of our people are local and the funeral home is right across the street. I still belileve they could have spent the money building the new road on road repairs we need in town,"  said Matthews.

In this railroad town you don't have to look far for empty store fronts. Downtown Georgiana is literally about a tenth of a mile from the new road. That's why mayor Jerome Antone is taking the broader view. The mayor sees it as a catalyst for future growth, not a dead end.

"I am certain after it's opened someone will place a business here," said Antone.

The mayor tells WSFA 12 News this part of the 55 extension was supposed to have been completed two years ago but there have been delays primarily due to bad weather and bad asphalt that had to be scooped up. State transportation officials, however, say the project is 'on schedule.'

The extension runs about a half-mile long. The Alabama Department of Transportation says the contractor is expected to wrap up construction around Septemeber 1.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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