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UGA-GDOT partnership helps Georgia travelers find their way

Even with sophisticated GPS systems, many Georgians still like the look and feel of a crisply folded state road map, veined with red and blue highways.

For two decades, the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) have produced the official state road map, available in many government offices, visitors and welcome centers, and rest stops along Georgia interstates.

The latest map was issued in January, after a year-long review and revisions by Institute of Government cartographers and GDOT graphic designers. Maps are revised and reissued every two years.

“People come in here specifically for maps because they like them so much,” says Alex Perschka, director of the Oconee County Tourism Department.

The new maps are being placed at the Oconee Welcome Center by Marketing and Tourism Coordinator Kristy Curtis.

Travelers stop at the county visitors center in downtown Watkinsville for maps and tourist information, Perschka said. He also includes them in information packets he prepares for real-estate agents and tucks them into recruitment folders for economic developers.

GDOT printed almost one million copies of the 2019-20 map. This edition includes new color coding that depicts coastal water depths rendered by Institute of Government Cartographer Angela Wheeler and artistic representations of state symbols created by GDOT Business Analyst Kiisa Wiegand. Additions, corrections and design changes to the map are submitted by employees in Georgia’s seven GDOT district offices, by other state agencies and by transportation officials in other states.

The 2019-20 map includes new branding by GDOT, municipalities that have formed since the last map— Peachtree Corners, South Fulton and Stonecrest—and a welcome from Ann R. Purcell, GDOT board chair. The new map also shows the location of camping shelters along the Appalachian Trail, with its southern trail head in Springer Mountain, Georgia.

This year there were 200 revisions to the map, said Wheeler, who has worked on GDOT road maps since 2010.

“It’s a real collaborative process,” Wheeler says. “I send drafts to GDOT to review and suggest changes. Once they’re happy with the way everything looks, Kiisa will send it to the printer to do the proofs.”

In January, 990,025 maps arrived at GDOT headquarters for shipment to district offices and the Georgia Department of Economic Development, which delivers maps to welcome centers throughout the state.

Producing the road map is just one of the UGA Institute of Government’s dozens of partnerships throughout Georgia, said Laura Meadows, director of the institute.

“We work with state, local and regional agencies on dozens of initiatives that improve Georgians’ lives and strengthen our communities,” Meadows says, “from rural economic development to helping drivers get to their destination without missing a turn.”

While more and more motorists depend on GPS systems for directions, people still love maps, Wiegand said.

“There is still a demand,” she says. “They’re really interesting. They show changes in geography, how the road system changes over time, and they give users a more accurate sense of direction.”

Writer: Roger Nielsen,, 706-542-2524

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