Winship Hills asks for longer I-75 noise wall

Comments on design taken for next 10 days

jgaines@macon.comJanuary 16, 2014 

A sparsely attended meeting to help pick the surface design for a noise barrier along Interstate 75 in Macon’s Winship Hills neighborhood instead drew demands to lengthen the planned concrete wall.

About a dozen people turned out for the Thursday evening meeting at Northwoods Academy with Georgia Department of Transportation staff and consultants. A few of those in attendance don’t live in the Winship Hills area.

Brad Hale, a project consultant for GDOT, said the noise barrier is part of the ongoing plan to widen Interstates 16 and 75. It’s one of nine such barriers in various affected areas.

“This project is basically a 6-mile section of the interstate corridor through Macon,” he said. The road construction, including rebuilding the I-16 and I-75 interchange, isn’t scheduled until 2018. But Hale said planning has been going on since 1986.

Part of the mitigation plan for the wider road is building a concrete noise barrier about 1,000 feet long and varying from 20 to 28 feet high in Winship Hills.

The goal of Thursday’s meeting was to get comments on the preferred design for the side of the wall that will face into the neighborhood, said Karlene Barron, GDOT communications manager. Examples shown included a smooth concrete surface and a rough finish like natural stone, but Hale said specific designs also could be made such as trees or birds in flight.

But many of those present argued that the wall should be higher and much longer.

“Get rid of the aesthetics; extend the wall,” one man said.

Hale and GDOT staff said they’re constrained by federal guidelines on the noise and cost threshold for placing such walls, and under those rules can’t justify making it any longer. As for the height, Winship Hills slopes up above the level of the interstate, Hale said. The height limit on such walls is 30 feet, so even a barrier of the maximum height wouldn’t do much to shield people further up the hill, he said.

“We’re protecting everybody that we can in here,” consultant Karla Poshedly said.

Comments will be taken until Jan. 26, and the results will be taken to another public meeting, Hale said.

A map of the site and project information is available at www.i16i75.com. Printed information also will be available at the Macon GDOT office, 4499 Riverside Drive.

Comments can be submitted through the website, by emailing comments@i16i75.com, calling 800-470-2344, or sending mail at I-16/I-75 Improvement Project, P.O. Box 13011, Macon, GA 31208-3011.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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