Holliday says his bid to check Forest Hill Road widening is ‘David and Goliath’ effort

mstucka@macon.comMarch 11, 2013 

Road activist Lindsay “Doc” Holliday’s efforts Monday to get a temporary restraining order against Forest Hill Road construction were notable largely for what wasn’t in place.

During a court session, Bibb County Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis said he had no experience in that kind of case and would normally count on lawyers to educate him. But there were no lawyers on hand, because Holliday was representing himself and no one arrived to represent the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Holliday offered up comments by hundreds of Bibb County residents opposing the road widening project. Ennis accepted them, but he didn’t know if legally he could read and consider them in the case.

Traffic barrels went up along the roadway last week. Holliday said that’s a sign the road’s tree canopy is under immediate threat.

“What we need now is a temporary restraining order to stop harm that’s immediate, irreparable,” Holliday said.

Ennis helped Holliday enter into evidence Holliday’s video showing traffic barrels along both sides of Forest Hill Road between Wimbish Road and Northside Drive.

Holliday filed suit in December saying that the Department of Transportation’s plan to widen Forest Hill Road would ruin the tree cover and pollute nearby streams. Holliday says it would also result in a road widening that’s far less safe than an alternate design he favors.

In court filings, the Department of Transportation says Holliday’s lawsuit isn’t following the law. The state denies that the road widening would bring, as Holliday alleges, “extreme harm to the community,” and that the canopy of trees would be “unnecessarily decimated” under the construction plans.

Ennis did not say when he might rule on Holliday’s request for a temporary restraining order. He told Holliday he expected the next hearing would cover both Holliday’s request for a permanent injunction and the state’s motion to dismiss the case altogether.

Ennis also told Holliday that he expected the state would arrive “all lawyered up” with legal talent to represent a major project. The widening in that section, to three lanes, was bid at $8.4 million. A separate four-lane section, between Wimbish and Forsyth roads, remains on the drawing boards.

Holliday said he’d been trying to find a lawyer to represent him.

“I’ve talked with at least 10 attorneys who said it was either hopeless or expensive. ... What I’m going to do is attempt a David and Goliath,” he said.

Ennis replied, “You know David killed Goliath, but that’s a long shot. I urge you to keep looking.”

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