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Telegraph Illustration of Project

I-75 project pushed back again

Thursday - Nov 19, 2009

The massive reconstruction of Interstate 75 from Pierce Avenue to Arkwright Road has been pushed back again.

The project ­ which includes widening 2.5 miles of the interstate to six lanes, rebuilding several bridges and replacing the southbound entrance and exit ramps near Pierce Avenue ­ is now expected to be put out for bid sometime before the fiscal year ends June 30, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

DOT officials initially had said the work would begin this past summer. In July, the targeted start of construction was said to be sometime this fall.

Instead, the work was put on the back burner while other projects were pushed through to qualify for federal stimulus money, DOT spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said.

“That has been a priority,” she said.

The work had been included in a DOT list of summer construction projects that were expected to impact interstate motorists. That list showed the project as having an estimated “contract amount” of $77.9 million. It also had been on a list of projects eligible for stimulus funding.

“The project is ready to go. We just have to get the funding in line for it,” Paulk-Buchanan said.

Now, most of the funding is expected to come through a usual match of federal and state money, with the state contributing probably about 20 percent.

“The right of way has been purchased. The plan is done. The design is done. Everything’s ready to go,” Paulk-Buchanan said. “It’s just a matter of, are the dollars there?”

The work also would impact Riverside Drive, as plans call for the heavily traveled thoroughfare to be widened to seven lanes at the new on and off ramps.

There also will be some upgrades at intersections with some side roads.

The project has met some public opposition. Some residents and local transportation officials ­ including Larry Walker, former vice chairman of the state transportation board ­ said the project caught them by surprise.

After a series of meetings organized by residents, the DOT held a public information open house in May and received 71 official comments about the work.

Residents were able to win some concessions, including additional noise barriers along the northbound lanes of the interstate and a change in the plans to allow left turns into and out of Lee Road.

A layout of the project’s design is available for public view at the local DOT office at 4499 Riverside Drive in Macon.

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623

Here are some of the major features of the proposed renovation of Interstate 75 from Pierce Avenue to Arkwright Road:

­ Widening of I-75 to six lanes from south of Pierce Avenue to north of Arkwright Road. During construction, however, the interstate will be narrowed significantly as existing southbound lanes are removed to make way for the new entrance and exit ramps and those lanes are shifted into the current northbound lanes. I-75 North will be widened on its shoulders to four lanes to accommodate the southbound lanes, and a temporary retaining wall will be erected to separate the traffic.

­ Rebuilding and widening the I-75 bridge over Pierce Avenue. A new North Pierce Avenue will be constructed, shifting the street further north because of its proximity to the bridge. ­ Rebuilding and widening the Riverview Road bridge over I-75. Traffic will be detoured to the Red Oak Drive bridge.

­ Removing the I-75 southbound on-ramp, located south of Pierce Avenue, and the southbound exit, which is currently north of Pierce. With no traffic light, the exit ramp has been a major headache for motorists, especially those wanting to turn left across two lanes of traffic and a turn lane.

­ Construction of new I-75 South exit and entrance ramps. The new exit lane will begin at Riverview Road and end at Riverside Drive, across from the Riverstreet Corners shopping center. The on-ramp will begin on Riverside Drive, also across from the shopping center, and extend to near Pierce Avenue, where traffic will merge onto the interstate.

­ Widening of Riverside Drive in the area of the new on- and off-ramps. Dual left-turn lanes and right-turn lanes will be installed to direct traffic onto the new ramps and into the shopping center.

 ­ The bridge at Arkwright Road will be widened and lengthened, with what the DOT calls some “minor reworking.” ­ Rodney Manley

Thursday, May. 07, 2009

DOT to discuss I-75 widening project today in Macon

By Travis Fain -



The Georgia Department of Transportation will hold an information session this afternoon on the widening of Interstate 75 from Arkwright Road to Pierce Avenue.

The drop-in-style session is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. at Riverside United Methodist Church, located at 735 Pierce Ave. The meeting will be in the fellowship hall, according to the DOT.

There won’t be a formal presentation, but DOT officials will be on hand to answer questions, share design plans and accept comments. A court reporter also will be there, the DOT said, to formally record public comments.

The widening from four to six lanes has been controversial for a variety of reasons, and area residents and business owners hope to talk to planners about noise barriers, neighborhood access during and after construction and safety concerns, said Lee Johnson, who lives and owns a business in the area. “We’re not opposed to this project,” Johnson said. “We would like to just have some modifications made to it.”

The project will be funded through the federal stimulus program, and construction costs are estimated at about $90 million. Several bridges will be replaced, and the Arkwright Road and Pierce Avenue interchanges will be redone. The Pierce Avenue area entrance and exit ramps would be moved, and Riverside Drive would be widened to seven lanes at the ramps.

Construction tentatively is scheduled to begin this summer and last for about three years, the DOT has said.

Johnson said the DOT has been “excellent” in providing him information about the project, but several concerns still need to be addressed. He’d like to see more sound barriers included in the project as well as careful consideration to neighborhood access and safety.

“We’ve got an aging population out here,” he said. The DOT is “just looking at as many safety issues as we can.”

The DOT is also accepting written comments on the project until May 17. They can be mailed to Glenn Bowman, state environmental/location engineer, 3993 Aviation Circle, Atlanta, GA 30336-1593.

To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213

Citizen Blog Comments

otherwiser wrote on 05/07/2009 02:33:37 AM:

Bring the kids tomorrow, this will be a great lesson in Civic Duty and Public Participation. Make sure to document your concerns with the Court Reporter or else it will all be hot air.

1) Reserve the right to add additional comments by email AFTER review of the I-75 & I-16 Environmental Assessment

2) Public Safety issues re Six Lanes of Traffic vs four being dumped into the already, highly dangerous I-75S & I-16E split.

3) Sound Barriers for the South Riverside Park Neighbors on Huntington & Delano Drives, who have an estimated 130,000 vehicles and multiple Railroad Trains passing through their backyards daily.

4) South Riverside Park Flood prevention & Hydrology issues

5) Police, Amubulance & Fire access to Riverside Park during construction

6) Public Safety considerations for the 600 Taylor Elementary students who enter and exit the Rosa Taylor area, twice daily.

7) Lee Rd turn lanes, access and possible shortcut to shopping center to alleviate problems.

otherwiser wrote on 05/07/2009 08:46:21 AM:

I-75 at I-16 Split, Accident Data from City of Macon

1/1/2000 to 12/31/2008

832 accidents, 263 injuries, 4 fatalities

otherwiser wrote on 05/07/2009 08:00:39 PM:

Two pages of Politicians and hundreds of Citizens showed up for the meeting today. 72 written comments were entered and about 25 were verbally entered with the Court Reporter. The Court Reporter seemed very impressed with the public participation and number of concerned, consciencious and well versed citizens that took the time to enter comments. She said usually only 2 or 3 submit comments.

The Environmental Assessment is on location in Macon at the GDOT Offices, courtesy GDOT Chuck Hasty. GDOT Mr Ben Buchan was most helpful fielding concerns and he promised to look deeper into several issues that were presented.

-this gdot update brought to you by the second largest news gatherer in middle-georgia, The Howard Hughes School of Charm.

otherwiser wrote on 05/07/2009 05:48:10 PM:

flash news update: i hate to scoop award winning journalists travis youresovain fain, homeyb and cuz charles moocow but we have just been notified that the spectacular, suave and sophisticated lower riverside park nwatch leaders, which btw include lazybones119555 have just successfully negotiated sound barriers for lower riverside park! 1 down, 6 to go...

Lazybones11955 wrote on 05/07/2009 11:58:20 AM:

Go home Yankee1967! Unless you've studied the GDOT proposal, and have read and considered the safety issues, I suggest you refrain from concluding that the residents want to impede progress and don't want improvement. It doesn't seem believable that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent- in today's economy to change a bridge- 2 INCHES, but they don't have money in the budget to provide sound barriers for part of the neighborhood being affected negatively by "improvement and progress". In fact, stimulus money is the only reason this project is being funded. Read the complete proposals on both sides of the issue- then make your comments. I doubt you will bother to do that- because it doesn't affect YOU! Compromise can be accomplished- and improvement and progress can continue.

ara83 wrote on 05/07/2009 01:36:21 PM:

get him lazybones!!!!!!! i do not and will not tolerate ignorance with this issue. for those of us who are educated in this matter and who are directly affected by this construction should be at this meeting tonight to voice your questions and concerns. it is very important that any and all issues be brought to the attention of dot, state and local officials!!!!! THIS IS OUR LAST CHANCE TO VOICE OUR CONCERNS!!!!!



Friday, Apr. 24, 2009

Pierce/I-75 project concerns linger


More than 60 people attended a meeting Thursday evening to express their concerns about plans to widen Interstate 75 and parts of Riverside Drive from Pierce Avenue to Arkwright Road.

The meeting, the third in a series of public forums, was held at Riverside United Methodist Church, 735 Pierce Ave. Lasting for nearly two hours, the residents — many representing areas central to the Georgia Department of Transportation project such as Huntington, Delano and Thornwood drives, Lee Road and Tiffen Circle — spoke mostly in opposition to the project.

Included in the planned project are the widening of I-75 to six lanes from south of Pierce Avenue to north of Arkwright Road, closing the existing southbound on and off ramps north and south of Pierce and replacing them with new ramps that will join Riverside Drive north of Pierce at the entrance to the Riverstreet Corners Shopping Center, and widening Riverside Drive at the new on and off ramps.

Several residents expressed worries about how the overhaul will impact the Riverview Road bridge over I-75, the flood zone and noise levels in their neighborhoods, and evacuation routes in the event of a large-scale emergency while construction is ongoing.

Changes to the access to Lee Road, which exits into Riverside Drive just north of planned new interstate access, also was a major concern.

Lee Johnson and Vic Jones, who have been active in organizing the residents, presented new details about the interstate project after riding along Wednesday with a DOT planner through neighborhoods likely to be affected.

Local engineer Dan Fisher and community activist Susan Martin, both of the Macon Area Transportation Study, helped Johnson and Jones field questions, helping to prepare the audience for an upcoming DOT meeting at the church May 7.

The event, from 4-7 p.m., will be the first opportunity for residents to meet with DOT officials and view their plans.

Johnson said transportation department representatives will accept concerns in written form and contact individuals within 10 business days. A court reporter will be present to take recorded statements for legal purposes.

The DOT declined to participate in a panel discussion with the public, Johnson said.

“I think that’s very unfair. They don’t want to do a public hearing because people will stand up and speak and give their opinion,” said Peg Jones, a resident of North Pine Knoll Drive. “This seems to be a tactic against public outcry.”

Martin said it will be important for residents and business owners to express their concerns with the project as plans are finalized — because plans are not yet finalized.

“I hope that they can just tweak this project so that it truly addresses local concerns and not just interstate concerns,” she said.

Macon City Councilman Rick Hutto, who previously met with DOT planners about the project, and Macon Police Chief Mike Burns attended the meeting.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Ashley Tusan Joyner, call 744-4347

Wednesday, Mar. 04, 2009

DOT’s Walker ‘appalled’ to be in dark about Riverside/I-75 plan



Residents and business owners who were surprised to learn about a massive overhaul of Interstate 75 along Riverside Drive that’s set to start this summer were not alone: Larry Walker, vice chairman of the state transportation board, says he was kept in the dark, too.

In a pointed letter mailed Tuesday to acting Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Gerald Ross, Walker wrote he was “appalled” to learn about the project from an article in The Telegraph

“I am appalled that all of this is going on with little or nothing having ever been said to me about it,” Walker wrote. “In fact, I am embarrassed.”

The project includes widening I-75 to six lanes from south of Pierce Avenue to north of Arkwright Road; rebuilding and relocating the southbound exit and entrance ramps near Pierce Avenue; and widening and rebuilding several bridges on and over the interstate. Bids have not been taken on the project, which is expected to start sometime this summer.

“As the board member from this district, with a project of this significance, someone should have kept me informed,” Walker, a former state legislator from Perry who represents the board’s 8th Congressional District, said Tuesday afternoon.

“Somebody should have updated me about this. This is a very big project,” he said. “There’s too much of that going on, the board not being informed and, in some instances, the citizens not being informed.”

Ross responded to Walker’s letter, saying in a statement that most of the planning for the project happened before Walker was elected to the board in 2007.

“Mr. Walker was not aware of the department’s decision to move forward with the project,” Ross said. “The environmental process and most public hearings preceded Mr. Walker’s appointment to the state Board of Transportation. We have not let (solicited bids on) the project.”

Still, Walker was not happy.

“I’m familiar with the project to the extent that I saw it in the paper,” he said.

Susan Hanberry-Martin, a member of the citizens group CAUTION Macon, said she attended a preliminary meeting on the project several years back, although she could not recall how long ago. She was one of about 20 people, called “stakeholders,” chosen for a project development team to provide input during the early planning stages. She said several public meetings were held.

“They were open but not advertised,” she said. The team included representatives from a local neighborhood group and area businesses but, according to Hanberry-Martin, was “stacked” with members from the local planning and zoning board and the DOT.

The team, she said, also included a consultant from Boise, Idaho, who proposed a concept for the project that addressed some concerns by local members, including an improved entrance to the then-planned Water Works Park off the northbound exit at Pierce Avenue.

Members voted in favor of that concept, but they were overruled by the state because that plan “cost too much,” she said.

The final design shifts the on and off ramps for I-75 South up Riverside Drive, across from the Riverstreet Corners shopping center.

Riverside Drive will be expanded in that area to include dual left-turn lanes and single right-turn lanes onto the new ramps and into the shopping center.

As a result, nearby Lee Road will be restricted to right-hand turns only.

“We didn’t even see real drawings. They were lines on paper, concepts,” Hanberry-Martin said. “I don’t recall that we ever talked about Lee Road.”

Hanberry-Martin also serves on the Macon Area Transportation Study committee.

She does not recall the Pierce Avenue to Arkwright Road project ever being discussed.

“They didn’t bring any of this up with that committee, either. It just sort of fell off the radar.”

That might be because the project was overshadowed by the controversial I-16/I-75 interchange project, she said.

“They did not plan it with the I-16/I-75 interchange, but they sort of talked about it at the same time,” she said. “All of that should have been part of some holistic plan, but ... it was segmented out.”

Construction on the Riverside/I-75 project is expected to take about three years.

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623

Lazybones11955 wrote on 03/04/2009 02:45:07 PM:

They were open but not advertised,� she said.

Open, but not advertised, reeks of not wanting area residents to have any knowledge or say so in the project. It's hard to attend an open meeting you don't know about! This project is practically in my front yard- would have been nice to have known about it when there was some chance of having input into the decisions.

wrote on 03/04/2009 02:35:29 PM:

After thinking about this project for a few days I wonder why we need it. I have lived about 1.5 miles from the Pierce exit for 15 years. I have never experienced a traffic jam there. I have heard of a few flipped trucks causing problems but that is rare. Just so everyone is clear. The population of Macon is no bigger today than it was 40 years ago. Why do we need 6 lanes?



DOT runs over everybody

Thank you for your very good drawing and explanation of the DOT planned rebuilding of the I-75 Pierce Avenue interchange and Riverside Drive congestion to be created. Your article “correction” the next day, although hard to pick up, clarified the inference that there had been positive input by local stakeholders in the design process, ignored by DOT as usual.

A friend had contacted me two weeks ago about the change — unknown by me although I use the Lee Road exit to Riverside 90 percent of the time from my Northwoods home of 44 years — wanting to discuss project drawings. I reviewed them until I could understand the adverse impact that many would experience.

I have had “only” 50 years of engineering and construction experience, so I could understand how most could be uninformed with any type of DOT presentation.

DOT Vice Chairman Larry Walker’s comments in The Telegraph should not come as a surprise to any — except that it did it to one of its bosses. The DOT does what it wants to do when it wants to do it.

The early planning is out of the public eye with input usually only from powerfully placed individuals who would be impacted. They carry the project design to a point to when it is exposed to common people, the DOT’s usual response to citizen comments is that the design is too far advanced and redesign is too expensive to consider. Then they float out the comment sheets for attendees to make their remarks for consideration by DOT.

The road lobbyists and DOT are not content to cut down the trees in right of ways along interstates, they also waste paper on comment sheets. Next they may say they can use the trees that are cut down for comments. They are then “green.” You figure.

The wrong person was let go when Commissioner Gena Evans was fired. I have known Evans since the early ’90s, she is very competent and hard working, and I envisioned her as the leader that would have corrected systemic DOT deficiencies.

The good old boy network succeeded again. I wonder if they gave her a comment sheet.

— Arthur D. Brook

May 5, 2009


















Smart Growth and Intelligent Transportation Systems are the wave of the future for smart cities. Unfortunately Bibb County and the City Of Macon have not embraced that philosophy yet. Rail is the only thing they have looked at. They have NOT incorporated in a meaningful way, transit (the 2025 Transportation Plan devotes only one paragraph to transit!!), pedestrian, bicycling, or 'system planning' in their transportation plan. You might want to look at some of the web sites listed below. They might help you with a 'quick read' about transportation ideas, issues and policies:

- CAUTION Macon -

  Eisenhower Parkway Extension