The recently named Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway could become one of LaGrange and Troup County’s unique features for tourists and interstate passersby.
The 16-mile stretch of highway on Interstate 85, from exit 2 in West Point to Exit 18 in LaGrange, was dedicated last month to late Interface founder and Chairman, Ray Anderson, and Anderson’s self-named foundation is partnering with other agencies to make the highway restorative and eco-friendly, in a model of Interface’s “Mission Zero” statement.
“The goal is to have the highway known as the most sustainable in the country,” said Allie Kelly, Vice President of Georgia Conservancy, a partner in the project. “We think it will be the first of its kind in the country.”
Mission Zero, was coined by Anderson in 1994 as Interface’s goal to have no negative impact on the Earth and become restorative by the year 2020. Amy Lukken, vice president of Interface, said the company is “about 72 percent up the mountain of mount sustainability.”
“We wanted to further the mission and influence on other industries and people in community to follow the no-negative impact on the Earth,” Lukken said at the Tuesday morning city council work session.
Kelly said the Georgia Tech College of Architecture will be conducting studies on opportunities, challenges, and potential plans for the highway to make it more sustainable and restorative.
The corridor, to be dubbed the “Mission Zero Corridor,” has approximately 10.5 million travelers a year, according to a study by the Georgia Department of Transportation. About four million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution is released in the area each year.
Though the project is still in its planning stages, Kelly said she hopes the project can inspire others to re-imagine their own corridors while also bringing economic development in the form of tourism to Troup County.
Some preliminary ideas included efficiency upgrades to the exit 2 Welcome Center, alternative pavement materials, landscaping for storm water management, flower planting, development of forest management plan and highway LED lights.
Kelly mentioned other countries that have become more eco-friendly by incorporating towers to capture water from the atmosphere, billboards that absorb carbon dioxide, and devices for solar capture.
Council seemed receptive to the project and generally agreed it would be a good look for LaGrange.
“It’s a great example of how we can make LaGrange and Troup County a special place,” said Councilman Tom Gore. “Those of us that live here think a lot of the place we live and we would like for other people to realize that. Anything to differentiate us.”
Mayor Jim Thornton said the city will look at drafting a resolution that will support the “Mission Zero” corridor project.
“I found it to be very exciting for this area that we have a lot of creative and intelligent groups coming into our area,” said Thornton. “This is not just a highway of commerce, but also a unique highway, a green highway. It would offer us and West Point the opportunity to re-imagine what we are doing in our businesses to catalyze our own efforts. I believe this could be a big attractor to this area.”