CAUTION Macon  Macon, Georgia
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    Forest Hill Road
Bibb Commissioners Meeting at the Bibb County Courthouse  9-18-07 

Macon, Ga

SOS forest

Ch 13 - WMAZ
Locals Protest Road Expansion

Last Update:9/18/2007 11:59:28 PM
Web Editor: Jake Wade

Protesters of the Forest Hill Road expansion project gathered in front of the Bibb County Courthouse Tuesday evening to voice their concerns.

Some carried signs and shouted to drivers passing by, while others took a more extreme approach, dressing up to make their point.

Lindsay Holliday, who's father was killed on Forest Hill Road in a January accident, says he's not against making changes to the road. However, he does want the city and county to listen to what the people have to say instead of the state department of transportation.

Currently, the DOT wants to look over paperwork that outlines expansion of the road.

Holliday says he and other protesters want to preserve their neighborhood while improving traffic flow.

"This is a deciding issue," said Holliday. "The voters are infuriated that the city's wasting millions of dollars to destroy an established neighborhood instead of fixing the traffic problem on Forest Hill Road."

Many of the protesters then went inside the courthouse to attend a Bibb County Commission meeting on the Forest Hill Road expansion project.

They took turns speaking to the commission about why they thought widening the road would hurt their community.

Commissioner Joe Allen says he supports looking into alternative ways to improve traffic on the road rather than following the state DOT's proposal.

Chairman Charlie Bishop says he believes the DOT's $15 million expansion project will improve existing conditions and speed traffic to the new North Macon shopping areas.

One woman who spoke to both commissioners says she's proud of all the people who want to get involved in the Forest Hill Road debate.

"It makes me feel validated," said Susan Hanberry Martin, who lives in the Forest Hill neighborhood. "I think that we have a strong vibrant community and people are willing to fight for it."

Bibb County commissioners say they'll consider setting up a meeting with members of the Forest Hill Road community to discuss the proposed widening project in detail next week.

    Citizens demonstrate outside the Bibb County Courthouse for a new design at Forest Hill Road ...
50 Citizens filled the County Commission meeting to Overflowing.  Bishop continues to claim he is "powerless" even after the County Attorney, Virgil Adams assured Joe Allen that the Bibb Commission always has the power to "change or stop" the Forest Hill Road projects.

(above) Carol Lystlund speaks for the trees. .  click above for broader image including the demonstration outside.

We learned that Georgia State Rep - Allen Peake visited yesterday with Georgia DOT leaders -
and the Bibb Commissioners told GDOT that they "do not want any changes to the Forest Hill Road design".
BOO on Charlie Bishop, Elmo Richardson.
Telegraph Story below:
Posted on Tue, Sep. 18, 2007

Local officials talk about city road project in Atlanta

{Citizens are betrayed at closed-doors meeting in Atlanta}

By Keich Whicker -

A handful of state and local officials met Monday with the state transportation commissioner in Atlanta to discuss the controversial plan to widen parts of Forest Hill Road in north Macon.

At the request of state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, a group of lawmakers that included Bibb County Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop, Commissioner Elmo Richardson and state Sen. Cecil Staton, R-Macon, sat down with Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl for about an hour and a half for what Richardson described as an "informational meeting" about the project.

The project is "justified," based on the information the group heard Monday, Richardson said.

"I don't think anything has changed," he said, referring to the project and its often-disputed plans. "It's still going forward, as far as I know. There's no justification to make any changes at this time. ... Nothing was presented today ... that would change where we are with the plans."

The current plan, which officials said has been scaled back three times from its original proposal, calls for the two-lane road to be widened into three- and four-lane sections based on DOT traffic counts with data that has varied widely.

Opponents of the project have argued that it should be redesigned to lessen its impact on local neighborhoods. Some community activists also have said the project should include roundabouts, which they think would be safer than standard intersections.

Commissioners have said there is no design money left to redesign the project.

Residents recently argued that the project should be abandoned because it isn't necessary, given that its original intent was to help traffic flow more easily to Macon Mall, which they say is losing visitors.

The only official action on the project in recent months came at a commission meeting earlier this month when Commissioner Joe Allen asked the county attorney if the county had any wiggle room as far as the project is concerned.

Allen wanted to know if the county could possibly not do the project it promised when it presented the last special purpose local option sales tax to voters.

"If (the residents) don't want it, then we shouldn't do it," Allen said.

Bishop, who heads two of the county's most powerful committees on road planning, has said the DOT has already begun buying the land needed to widen the road as planned.

He said he went to Monday's meeting to "see if there are any alternatives," so far as the project is concerned.

"I'm going to go listen to see what Allen (Peake's) proposition is," he said shortly before heading to Atlanta.

Efforts to reach Peake for comment about Monday's meeting were unsuccessful.

To contact writer Keich Whicker, call 744-4494.

Recent Comments
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a fax that Nancy White sent to Larry Walker

September 17, 2007

Mr. Larry Walker
State Transportation Board
P.O. Box 1770
Perry, GA 31069

RE:     Forest Hill Road (Macon)

Dear Mr. Walker:

Thank you for taking the time last Wednesday to meet with us regarding Macon's
Forest Hill Road improvement project.   Pursuant to your request, I am providing
a list of improvements the stakeholders find acceptable.  I hope this is helpful
for your meeting this week with Commissioner Linnenkohl.

·       Repave the surface of Forest Hill Road
·       Limit new construction to one new southbound left-turn-land at Ridge Avenue,
               and one new southbound left-turn-land at Wimbish Road
·       No new traffic signals are needed
·       Build within existing right-of-way
·       Consider traffic calming devices at some intersections
·       Do not straighten out the "s-curve" because curvy roads are generally safer as
               they slow traffic
·       Solve "s-curve" issue with good and prominent signage and "cuts" in asphalt on
               the approach from both ends

The stakeholders feel strongly that the road itself is not the problem, and that
traffic calming and improved intersections are all that are warranted.

I hope this feedback is helpful.  Please feel free to contact me at 464-8171
with any questions.


Nancy White
Ward 5 Post 2

Read the latest BLOGs about Forest Hill Road:

Blatant disregard

I have just come from the Bibb County Commission meeting. It is rare that I am disappointed as much as I am at this moment.

The blatant disregard these representatives of the people have for the people is very disheartening. The Forest Hill Road project has been around a long time, but so have the objections.

It is so sad that certain commissioners put their own egos ahead of the wishes of those who elected them (but won't the next time).

Jack Castle
Posted on Fri, Sep. 21, 2007 - The Macon Telegraph   p. 9A

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