Macon man files suit against state's Forest Hill Road widening plan

mstucka@macon.comDecember 17, 2012 

Road activist Lindsay “Doc” Holliday has sued the Georgia Department of Transportation, saying the state’s plans to widen Forest Hill Road would imperil drivers and the environment.

Holliday’s suit seeks a temporary restraining order against the department, which earlier this month began advertising for bidders to work on the first part of a widening project.

Holliday’s two-page lawsuit, filed Friday without the help of a lawyer, also seeks a road redesign, a repaving as soon as possible and the addition of left-turn lanes added at the intersections of Forest Hill Road with Ridge Avenue and Wimbish Road.

The lawsuit said the Bibb County Superior Court needs to intervene soon, before trees are cut down for the widening project.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is taking bids now for a section of Forest Hill Road between Northside Drive and Wimbish Road, which would become a three-lane section. Construction on a stretch from Forsyth Road to Wimbish Road, which would become a four-lane section, is scheduled for 2016.

Bids for the three-lane section -- but not a related bridge -- were opened Friday, a few hours before Holliday filed his lawsuit.

Six companies offered bids between $8.4 million and $11 million.

A Georgia DOT spokeswoman, Jill Goldberg, said the department cannot comment on any pending legal issues.

Improvements to Forest Hill Road were approved by voters 18 years ago in a sales-tax referendum. But debate over the scale of the road project soon started, with state officials pushing for Forest Hill Road to become five lanes. The road was targeted by a group known as CAUTION Macon, or Citizens Against Unnecessary Thoroughfares In Our Neighborhoods.

Though Holliday is the only plaintiff in the lawsuit, in an e-mail Monday he solicited donations for CAUTION Macon to pay for a transportation expert’s travel and testimony.

In the lawsuit, Holliday said the DOT plan would result in an unsafe road with long-lasting harm to streams and the tree canopy.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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