The construction of the Interstate 16/Interstate 75 interchange in Macon-Bibb County began in 1962 and was completed in 1963. Within 20 years, the interchange needed improvements. After numerous local transportation studies were conducted, Georgias Department of Transportation moved forward by conducting additional research and reaching out for community input in 1999.
Several Macon communities surround this improvement project. However, it will physically disturb the historic Pleasant Hill community.
Fortunately, Peter Givens, a Pleasant Hill native with roadway expertise under his belt was able to initiate mitigation for the Pleasant Hill community. He is one of the founders of the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Improvement Group, which worked closely with the Federal Highway Administration and GDOT to initiate mitigation plans that include construction of two linear parks, sound barriers, sidewalks, streetscapes and the relocation of about 26 structures in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood.
This mitigation also includes archiving and documenting Pleasant Hills history and the development of a heritage tour. More aspects of the project will renovate the David Lucas Pedestrian Bridge, start a community resource center, change ditches to green space and open up Middle Street to connect with Walnut Street.
These types of initiatives are designed to help engage the community and bring back a strong sense of vibrancy when they have to experience such a dynamic change. Its designed to help people in the neighborhood adapt and prepare for the major transitions of growth, which usually result from the need to develop larger highways.
Oral history gatherings are being scheduled at many of the churches in Pleasant Hill. Public service announcements from GDOT will keep the neighborhood informed about any future meetings designed for community input.
Right now, GDOT has several contractors working on fulfilling the needs of this mitigation process. There is no way possible to heal the pain from the initial construction that took place in the early 1960s. However, many factors of pain from splitting the neighborhood in the past were used to help create the present mitigation commitments.
The cost of Pleasant Hills mitigation commitments total $10 million. Log onto www.i16i75.com or call Clinton Ford, the GDOT project manager, at (678) 343-0929 for more detailed information.
Yolanda Y-O Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macons representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. Contact her at email@example.com.