Members of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority agree they are happy the Georgia Department of Transportation is including plans for the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail in its proposal for the new interchange of Interstates 75 and 16.
During the authoritys meeting Thursday, Executive Director Alex Morrison presented a list of the rights of way the DOT would be willing to buy from the authority for about $339,000, and in turn the DOT would commit to make certain improvements to the trail.
But, the devil is in the details, authority member Don Cornett said.
The authority would like to get something in writing from the DOT about what it will include toward long-term development of the trail, said Chris Sheridan, who with Wimberly Treadwell, has been asked by the authority to work with DOT on plans for the trail. Sheridan is a former member of the authority and president of Chris R. Sheridan & Co. and Treadwell is an architect with W.T. Design.
Mayor Robert Reichert also is in talks with DOT about the interstate interchange, and he said during the meeting that transportation officials have said they would have to build a temporary bridge over the Ocmulgee River during construction. Once a permanent bridge is built, the DOT could allow the temporary one to remain, and it could be turned into a pedestrian bridge for the trail, he said. This would allow the trail to eventually connect to Amerson River Park.
Reichert said he was concerned that if the authority challenged the appraised value of the rights of way, then the DOT would not be as willing to negotiate when it comes to other parts of the interstate work.
Authority members said they didnt have a problem with the appraised value of the rights of way, they just want to get written assurances from the DOT what it will do involving the trail before they sign off on it.
In another matter, the authority recognized the accomplishments of outgoing Chairman Bob Lewis, who has served in that position for 12 years. He will step down as soon as Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart appoints another person to the authority. Then the authority will select a new leader.
Some of the accomplishments during his tenure include work on: Riverside Drive development site, relocation of Capital City Bank, Gateway Plaza development, alleyway projects, Poplar Street enhancements, Poplar Street parking deck, multiple Georgia Cities loans which added lofts downtown and assisted Cox Capitol Theatre, facilitating Ocmulgee Heritage Trail property acquisition, relocation of the visitors center, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard enhancements, Dannenburg building, Tubman African American Museum and small-business loans.
He has not missed a meeting in 12 years, said Ed Grant. Thats saying a whole lot.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.