Plans ready for new noise-blocking wall along I-75

Construction at least three years off

jgaines@macon.comMay 7, 2014 

The noise-blocking wall to eventually be built along Interstate 75 in the Winship Hills neighborhood will feature a row of Macon’s famous cherry trees facing the area’s houses, in response to the votes that community members gave the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“It would be an impression on the concrete itself. It would not be painted,” said Brad Hall from Moreland Altobelli, a consulting firm working with the DOT.

But though a dozen or so people came to the Jan. 16 meeting where design options were discussed, only four of them actually voted -- and one of those stated no particular preference, Hall said.

And only three members of the public came to a meeting Wednesday evening at Northwoods Academy, where the design was on display.

The wall is part of a much larger project to upgrade six miles of Interstates 16 and 75 through Macon in order to improve safety and handle expected traffic. The Winship Hills wall, one of nine in various affected areas, is to stand from 20 to 28 feet high and run for 1,682 feet, with its midpoint near the Riverside Drive end of Corbin Avenue.

Land acquisition is in progress, but Hale said the funding schedule means the earliest construction could start is July 2017.

DOT spokeswoman Kimberly Larson said she doesn’t think the wall’s final price tag has been determined yet.

At the January meeting, a few people asked for the wall to be lengthened, but Hale and DOT staff said federal guidelines on cost and noise thresholds don’t allow them to justify a longer one.

Some businesses on Riverside Drive have asked for the wall to be removed from their interstate frontage, Hale said.

“Right now that request is still under review by the department, but one thing we can say is that GDOT will not consider removing any section of the barrier if it has a negative impact on any of the residential properties along Corbin Avenue which the barrier was designed to protect,” he said.

Residents of the Shirley Hills and North Highlands areas will get to see plans for the wall through their neighborhoods in a similar meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Highland Hills Baptist Church, 1370 Briarcliff Road.

Hale said planners want to wrap up all community meetings on the noise barriers before Macon-Bibb County officials are consulted on what the interstate-facing side of the walls should look like. Clinton Ford, a DOT project manager, said he hopes to meet with Macon-Bibb officials in mid-June.

The wall designs will be on display for 10 days at the Macon DOT office, 4499 Riverside Drive, said Karlene Barron, the department’s communications manager. They can also be viewed online at www.i16i75.com.

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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