Forest Hill Road contractor ready to work

mstucka@macon.comOctober 23, 2013 

A contractor said Wednesday he’ll have crews ready to work on Forest Hill Road as soon as an injunction is lifted.

“Our intention is, the minute it’s released is move on site, get the trees down, then we can set up our traffic control, get the utility relocation” started, said Mark Spence, project manager for R.J. Haynie & Associates of Lake City.

That company had the winning $8.4 million bid for the work in December, but the first of two injunctions went into place right before construction could begin. The injunction was obtained by Lindsay “Doc” Holliday, who sued to stop a state widening of the road but lost in court Tuesday.

A judge said he’ll sign an order ending the injunction within 35 days, which would give Holliday enough time to appeal and seek another injunction, should he do so.

Spence said he expects crews would start by taking down the trees and other vegetation, building retaining walls and working on culverts. That would clear the way for Georgia Power to begin relocating power poles. The road widening, to three lanes, would probably begin with grading in the spring.

“Nobody wants to start a job in the middle of wintertime,” Spence said.

It’s not clear how much the nearly one-year delay will cost. Spence said his company had locked in material costs for the expected duration of the program. Those suppliers will have to be negotiated with, and R.J. Haynie ultimately could try to pass costs onto the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Now that we know there’s an end in sight, hopefully we’ll be sitting down with the DOT and discussing this,” Spence said.

Earlier this year, the DOT warned Holliday in a letter that it could pursue legal costs, increased project costs and other fines over what it called abusive litigation.

The lawsuit and injunction cover only a planned three-lane widening between Northside Drive and Wimbish Road. The state also plans a four-lane section connecting to Vineville Avenue.

Holliday could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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