How could you miss 10 tons of pink granite?
It was easy, if you happened to drive into Macon on Interstate 75 near the F. Emory Greene Memorial Bridge.
The “Macon 1823” sign, which lay flat on a grassy hill there for 14 years, is gone.
It’s a safe bet, though, that most drivers hardly noticed.
Tuesday, the 40-foot marker — which notes when the city was founded — was removed at the direction of the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is in the process of widening the interstate.
Of course, part of the blame for few people seeing the sign lies with the DOT, which mandated that it must meet federal safety guidelines that didn’t permit the sign to sit upright. The sign had to be flush with the embankment.
“When the money (to build the sign) was donated, (the sign) was intended to be more vertical,” Bill Causey, manager of the city’s engineering department said. “(Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission) got permission to do the sign, then the DOT said it had to be laid down so as not to be a road hazard. Everyone made fun of it, but no one did anything about it.”
DOT officials didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.
The sign was conceived by the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission and unveiled in 1996 thanks to a $50,000 private grant designed to spruce up the roads for the Atlanta Olympics that same year.
In 2003, Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful officials discussed moving the sign to an alternative, more visible location, but nothing ever came of it.
Right now, the sign sits in several pieces behind the old stables in Central City Park, and the city has no firm plans for it.
Causey and Parks and Recreation Director Dale “Doc” Dougherty are exploring the possibility of putting the sign on the slope near the entrance of Rose Hill Cemetery.
“It could be put anywhere,” Dougherty said. “We thought that’d be cool.”
Dougherty said another possibility might be the embankment along I-75 near the Mercer University Boulevard exit.
Causey said the city may also solicit the public’s ideas about where to place the sign.
In the meantime, the sign will remain in storage at Central City Park. Dougherty said the forklift the city was using couldn’t fit the sign’s 10 pieces inside the building for storage, so it remains outdoors inside a fenced-in area.
“You can’t budge any of the pieces,” Dougherty said. “We’re not really worried about anybody stealing them.”
Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.