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Officials push promotion of Stanton Springs
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Stanton Springs, the industrial park housing Baxter International’s $1 billion manufacturing campus, could soon be promoted to passersby on Interstate 20.

Technology Park Atlanta, the company developing and marketing Stanton Springs, asked the county to rename a portion of U.S. Highway 278 to Stanton Springs Parkway, county Chairman Keith Ellis said Tuesday, which could lead to a large green sign on the highway promoting the parkway, and by extension, the industrial park.

Ellis said Gov. Nathan Deal was supportive of the move during his meeting with Ellis and the local Newton County delegation last week.

The plan would be for both Newton and Walton counties to rename portions of U.S. 278 immediately around the park to Stanton Springs Parkway. Ellis called renaming the road and getting a green interstate sign an economic development tool.

Ellis said there’s a little confusion about who has the authority to rename a state highway and federal route. County officials thought the state had to make the official change, but the Georgia Department of Transportation said the county can make the change locally.

Another related effort would be beautifying I-20’s exit 101, which is right by the industrial park’s entrance. The county would also pursue grant funding to beautify exit 88 (Almon Road) and exit 98 (Ga. Highway 11), which are also in the county, while the city of Covington could seek money to beautify exits 90 (U.S. 278), 92 (Alcovy Road) and 93 (Ga. Highway 142).

Money is available through the Georgia Dept. of Transportation’s GATEway Grant Program. The maximum grant is $50,000, and applications are due by Feb. 28.

Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said students with the annual University of Georgia Metropolitan Design Studio are working on studying all six exits in the county and looking at options to beautify each one. Johnston said the students are trying to pull the theme of the area of each exit into the design.

The students work through The Center for Community Preservation and Planning. Center Director Kay could not be reached Thursday to provide more information.

Ellis said Tuesday any interstate improvements at Almon Road will need to work with the planned improvement of that interchange, which can be confusing because of a mash-up of traffic lights. In addition, he said, officials are trying to recruit a hotel near Stanton Springs, which could change the exit 101 area.

Ellis told the Newton County Board of Commissioners about the ideas at Tuesday’s meeting, but no action was requested or taken.