Officials have been trying to plan a widening of Forest Hill Road for about 30 years. Those plans will come under intense scrutiny during a weeklong trial next month.
Thats when a lawsuit by Lindsay Doc Holliday against the state Department of Transportation will be heard in Bibb County Superior Court. The trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 21 with Judge Edgar Ennis in a specially set court session.
One section of Forest Hill Road, to be widened to three lanes between Wimbish Road and Northside Drive, is already under contract for construction, which has since been delayed. A four-lane section connecting to Forsyth Road is also planned.
Holliday, in a lawsuit filed in December, contends that the state arbitrarily ignored safer designs for the road widening, which would cause irreversible environmental damage.
Ennis has issued injunctions in the case that he said were necessary to balance the competing, but important, interests in the case.
Ennis agreed with Holliday that if trees began getting cut down, they couldnt be replaced. He also rejected arguments that Holliday was effectively fighting against alleged future violations of state and federal environmental laws. He rejected state efforts to throw the case out of court.
But Ennis, in a May injunction, also noted that the Department of Transportation warned it could have to pay the costs of delays. The state has said it wants to charge Holliday those costs, which it says could exceed the $8.4 million contract price.
The Court is mindful of the potential drain on taxpayer funds and the potential loss of federal funds for this project due to the pending litigation, Ennis wrote in his May injunction.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.