Caution Macon 

The TCC approved the amendment at its January 18, 2012 meeting. 
TIP Amendment Description:  Addition of funding for preliminary engineering in the amount of $170,000 in FY 2012 for the Sardis Church Rd. extension project.

Is it technically proper for the TCC to vote on information that the CAC has not yet reviewed?

We discussed this at some length at our last CAC meeting on 1-11-12.


  Church    Road
Posted on Tue, Dec. 18, 2007

Road expansion could threaten Bibb homes, property

By Keich Whicker -

Construction isn't out of the ordinary at Chandler Downs.

The subdivision, located in south Bibb County off Sardis Church Road, still has vacant lots and unfinished houses. Near a cul-de-sac that still hasn't been paved, a sign announces plans for a new phase of homes, so talk about the prospect of future development isn't necessarily something that would surprise homeowners here.

However, when representatives from the state's Department of Transportation started showing up a few weeks ago and discussing how their plans to widen Sardis Church Road would impact the neighborhood, residents were surprised - and a little angry, too.

After all, many of them attended a public hearing in January 2006 and looked at the DOT's plans for the area. Those plans didn't show any impact on their subdivision, a group of 80 or so homes - priced from about $200,000 to $400,000 - that have been occupied for just two or three years.

"The map (the DOT) showed, didn't show our properties on there," said Bernard Sharpe, who has lived on Chandler Drive for about two years. "When I didn't see our properties on there, I thought, 'this thing isn't going to be close to us.' "

Sharpe and many of the subdivision's other residents were stunned when the DOT told homeowners in recent weeks that it needed to demolish four homes to build a temporarydetentionpond - to catch water runoff and soil erosion during the road project's construction and help it drain - and purchase about 20 feet of property from another 10 to 12 homeowners for rights of way.

"People were like, 'what?' " said Gloria Crockett, who has lived in Chandler Downs for almost two years. "All of this was surprising to everybody."

Worried about losing their property, angry residents have since lashed out at everyone from the county's Planning and Zoning Commission for approving their neighborhood for developmentand at the developer, Tim King, for building and then selling homes "he knew" would be affected by the new road.

King said he specifically developed the neighborhood with the road project in mind, because that's what local and state officials demanded.

"We had to jump through a lot of hoops to develop" the neighborhood, he said. "It was unreal how much we had to do. ... Before we got our final plat approval, we had to make sure ... everything was exactly right, based on what (officials) had set before us from the road program.

"In fact, we lost several lots because we had to go by what we were told we had to do for the road program."

DOT spokesman Mark McKinnon said there are "discrepancies in where the property lines are," but he doesn't know who staked the rights of way incorrectly - the developer or the state's engineers.

Moreover, McKinnon said the residents are correct about what they remember seeing and hearing at the 2006 public hearing: Chandler Downs was not affected by the plans displayed at that meeting.

The reason the subdivision is affected now is because the plans have changed, officials said.

Citing recent changes in environmental laws regarding erosion and sediment control on construction projects, McKinnon said the DOT was forced to alter the original plans to provide for a temporary detentionpond and more rights of way.

"That's what changed. That's what caused the difference," he said.
Upset about the changes in the project, a group of about 30 homeowners recently marched to the Bibb County Courthouse to complain to the board of commissioners.

After listening to their complaints, county officials said they knew nothing about the homes slated for destruction or the homes scheduled to lose chunks of their backyards.

"That was the first time we heard about it," Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop said later.

Commissioner Bert Bivins and county engineer Ken Sheets have since traveled to Atlanta to talk with the DOT about the project's impact on the residents, but neither was willing to divulge any particulars after the discussion.

Bivins, who represents the district where the homes are located, said he did not want to talk to the media about the issue. But he said when the time is right, he would let the residents know through official channels what he learned.

Speaking after the two men came back from Atlanta, Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson said the county is actively working toward a solution that favors the residents, but he didn't want to speak about it in specifics until the matter is actually settled.

"I don't want to promise anything that hasn't been agreed to yet," he explained.

An update on Chandler Downs is scheduled for discussion this morning during the commission's committee meetings.

"We can't speak out ahead of time," Layson added, "but we feel like it can be resolved and some progress can be made on it."

Bishop went even further.

"We're not going to let two-year-old houses get torn down," he said. "That would be ridiculous."

The DOT said it's not negotiating with any residents about destroying their homes, because state officials are looking for alternate engineering solutions, such as moving the detentionpond to the other side of the proposed construction or using a pond the developer already has built in the neighborhood.

"We feel pretty good about the fact that we can engineer our way around this," McKinnon said.

To contact writer Keich Whicker, call 744-4494.

Posted on Tue, Dec. 18, 2007

Sardis Church Road proposal actually consists of two projects

The Sardis Church Road proposal actually consists of two projects.

The first one comprises an interchange, a new four-lane bridge across Interstate 75, the relocation of Nowell Road and the addition of a new lane on I-75 in both directions between the interchange and the I-75/I-475 split.

The second portion would widen Sardis Church Road from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway with bike lanes and extend it from I-75 to Ga. 247.

The route would veer away from the existing Sardis Church Road just past Goodall Mill Road and continue southeast, passing south of the Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

Although there has been enthusiasm about the prospect of smoother traffic flow, many residents question the project's route, which could destroy 24 homes and increase traffic noise substantially in five neighborhoods. Some community leaders say the project might decrease the chances of attracting new business in south Bibb industrial parks.

Road noise would "exceed residential noise criteria" in three areas, and five areas would see a big increase in noise levels, according to a Department of Transportation environmental assessment. The state is proposing to build one noise barrier.

The I-75 interchange also would destroy five homes to limit harm to the historic Hudson farmstead, a Georgian-style house and land owned by developer Oney Hudson on both sides of the interstate.

Some residents have questioned the legitimacy of Hudson's property being designated as historic.

But Todd Hill, a senior environmental planner for environmental engineering firm Jordan Jones & Goulding that is working for the DOT on the project, said an architectural historian evaluated all the homes in the road's corridor. Historians look at not only the age of the home but its architectural style, he said. The entire Hudson farmstead was protected - not just the house - because it had been a farm since 1900.

Information from The Telegraph archives was used for this report.


  Church    Road

To: Telegraph Letters

Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 9:38 AM

Subject: Issue bigger than roundabouts and drainage


  In yesterday’s mail was the Georgia DOT’s 11-page response to 84 comments received from citizens concerned about the Sardis Church Road extension project. None of the comments received a favorable answer, and none of the 22 homes and 3 businesses scheduled for demolition will be spared.

  But, what really bugs me is this from the report: “The State Historic Preservation Officer considers the Hudson farmstead eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic resource survey was completed in 1999.

  “As the Hudson Farmstead is a privately-owned parcel of land (located at the proposed I-75/SCR interchange), the property owner has the right to develop it or preserve it as he or she sees fit. The only area that is anticipated to convert to commercial type use is the area immediately around the proposed interchange.”

  Since the farmstead has not been placed on the historic list after a lapse of seven years, one has to wonder what the heck is going on. My guess is the farmstead will quietly disappear from the list after the interchange is completed, and, just as the DOT said, it will “convert to commercial type use.”

  Meanwhile, preservation of the “historic farmstead” will require the construction of a non-traditional interstate interchange and the rerouting of Nowell Road—probably at additional cost—and the destruction of seven homes.

  Just as it did with the Forest Hill Road project, The Telegraph’s editorial board must weigh-in on the use of the NRHP as a means to a commercial end. This is a bigger issue than roundabouts and drainage.

                                                                        Lee Ballard




December 31, 2014 11:08 AM

State OKs $53.3 million road extension, expansion in south Bibb

The state has signed off on a $53.3 million construction contract to widen and extend Sardis Church Road from near Interstate 75 to Ga. 247.

The state has signed off on a $53.3 million construction contract to widen and extend Sardis Church Road from near Interstate 75 to Ga. 247.

The changes will provide better road access along southern Bibb County and could set the stage for further transportation changes.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the winning bid was made by C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. of Marietta, which plans to complete the work by May 2019. The state said the work will involve building five bridges and installing television monitoring systems.

The Sardis Church Road effort will begin with a rebuilding and a widening, to four lanes, from Skipper Road to Goodall Mill Road, according to a map from the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission. That ties in to the nearby, and relatively new, interchange on Interstate 75.

From there, the extension would move away from the current Sardis Church Road, crossing Houston Road near Nob Hill Drive and crossing U.S. 41/Industrial Highway south of the industrial parks. It would then tie into Avondale Mill Road at the curve near the end of the main Middle Georgia Regional Airport Runway and end at Ga. 247, which would get a new interchange to handle expected heavy traffic in the afternoons, the Georgia Department of Transportation said in a project description.

The work potentially affects several other transportation proposals. Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert has proposed connecting the Sardis Church Road extension to Interstate 16 in Twiggs County, with a bridge over the Ocmulgee River. Such a project would be costly.

Reichert also was among the advocates of a runway lengthening at Middle Georgia Regional Airport. The 6,500-foot runway now ends on a hill above Avondale Mill Road, which is becoming part of the Sardis Church Road extension. A lengthening of the runway would require a tunnel be built for the road as the runway is extended overhead, adding to the cost. Money for a lengthening was to have been included in a regional transportation sales tax, which voters rejected in July 2012.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.


December 23, 2016 5:11 PM

Huge road project will improve access to airport, RAFB; create transportation hub

By Linda S. Morris

A massive road building project expected to have a major impact on transportation and economic development is moving forward in south Bibb County and is on target for completion in 2019.

The more than $55 million project, referred to as the Sardis Church Road extension, would provide a route from the Sardis Church Road interchange at Interstate 75 over to Ga. 247.

The 6.3-mile route includes construction of five bridges, a four-lane divided east-west connector with a median, 4-foot bike lanes as well as 5-foot sidewalks on both sides of the roadway, according to an email from Kimberly Larson, a communications officer with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The total bid amount was $55,441,198, and work began April 24, 2015. The completion date is estimated for May 31, 2019.

It would have, in my opinion, an extraordinary impact on Middle Georgia as far as making us a transportation and logistics hub that would serve not only this Middle Georgia region but the entire state.

Mayor Robert Reichert

Contractor C.W. Matthews’ bridge crew has poured the decks on two bridges, and workers are now pouring the barrier wall, Larson said. A roadway crew is laying pipe near the Ga. 247 side of the project. Another contractor will be moving in during the beginning of 2017 to do culvert work on Avondale Mill Road.

“C.W. Matthews anticipates placing asphalt on the extension sometime in March 2017, weather cooperating,” she said.

Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert said he thinks the DOT conceived of the extension from I-75 “as another way to get traffic from I-75 to Robins Air Force Base without having to drive through the city of Warner Robins.”

The project will not only bring about more efficient traffic patterns, he said, but will have a major impact on another mode of transportation.

“We were very enthusiastic about it because it would make Middle Georgia Regional Airport easily accessible to I-75,” he said. “You don’t have to know your way to try to get from the airport to I-75 or from I-75 to the airport.”

Macon-Bibb County’s plans to lengthen the runway at the airport would not be hampered by the Sardis Church Road extension. The 6,500-foot runway now ends on a hill above Avondale Mill Road, which is part of the road extension.

Reichert said it has been determined that if the runway is lengthened, there “is more than enough room to put in a tunnel (on Avondale Mill Road) and still have about 10 feet of fill on top of the tunnel to get up to the top of the runway.”

The estimated cost of the tunnel and the runway extension is about $32 million.

The economic impact of the extension is expected to radiate outward even farther.

“It would have, in my opinion, an extraordinary impact on Middle Georgia as far as making us a transportation and logistics hub that would serve not only this Middle Georgia region but the entire state,” he said.


Reichert has even more ambitious plans and is working on getting the DOT to expand the reach of the Sardis Church Road extension with a second phase that would take it all the way to Interstate 16.

“If you continue in an easterly direction, across the river and 3 miles of wetlands, ... you could tie onto both the Cochran Short Route/U.S. 23 and tie onto I-16 at Sgoda Road,” he said. “That would link I-16 and I-75 and create this transportation and logistics hub around the Middle Georgia Regional Airport. It would be in south Bibb and north Houston county.

“It would give Robins Air Force Base east access to I-16 without having to go south all the way down to (Ga.) 96 and across. It would provide an additional crossing of the Ocmulgee River approximately halfway between the next publicly available crossing to the north, which is Coliseum Drive here in Macon and the next publicly available crossing on (Ga.) 96 down below Kathleen. So this would be about halfway between.”

While DOT officials questioned him about how much something like that would cost, Reichert reminded them that a former long-range plan ­ the Eisenhower Parkway extension ­ included a bridge across the Ocmulgee River before it was stopped because it ran into problems with the Traditional Cultural Property around the Ocmulgee National Monument.

So, to try to advance the plan, the Macon-Bibb County government has hired Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc. to do what is called a scoping study to determine if a second phase of the Sardis Church Road extension is feasible from a construction standpoint and if it’s financially feasible, Reichert said. So far, the estimate is about $62 million.

“The second half from (Ga.) 247 to I-16 is what we are pushing on now,” he said. “It is in our long-range plan now. ... It is in the 2040 time frame. ... So that cost estimate is included in the long-range transportation plan that we recently adopted at the (Macon Area Transportation Study) meeting in November.”

The DOT is considering improvements for a route that would make truck traffic to the Kia automotive plant in west Georgia from the port of Savannah easier. And that could tie into the current road project.

“If the road were improved from LaGrange to Macon, ... then you could literally come down on the Sardis Church Road connector and would be over and on I-16 and heading toward Savannah,” Reichert said. “So it would fit in beautifully with the proposed export/import highway.”

Pat Topping, senior vice president of the Macon Economic Development Commission, agreed that the Sardis Church Road extension would be a boon to the area and open it up as a regional transportation hub.

“Containers arriving in Savannah will be able to travel I-16, exit at Sgoda Road and empty into distribution centers in Middle Georgia, where they will be unloaded and mixed with freight from other containers for shipment throughout the country,” Topping said. “Containers can also be loaded onto rail cars for shipment and potentially even onto air cargo planes.”

Linda S. Morris: 478-744-4223, @MidGaBiz

Lindsay D Holliday ·
This Huge investment deserves an independent cost/benefits analysis. An independent study has never happened. All studies were done by insiders who benefit from a costly project. I was on the Citizens Advisory Committee to the Macon Area Transportation Study. We asked for this study for years. It never happened. So we citizen advisers voted against this project for years because we figured the reason no independent study was done is because the project could not pass the study.. Taxpayers be screwed. Merry Christmas.
Lee Martin Sr.
This project should have been built about two miles farther south. Doing so would have mitigated the impact this project will have on pre-existing and nascent home and neighborhood construction, it would have moved traffic more efficiently, accomplished all the same goals at much less cost, and would have had less impact on wetlands and the environment. But, alas, people who stand to reap big bucks from this project, used their influence in this county once again, and the taxpayers are paying.
Jonathan Cripe ·
Absolute boondoggle
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