Group launches unprecedented push against I-16/I-75 plan in Macon

What is quite likely the largest, most organized push against the Georgia Department of Transportation's plan to widen the Interstate 16 / Interstate 75 interchange has begun a coordinated effort to bring public and political pressure on designers to scale the project back.

A coalition of 53 civic groups, art foundations, museums, advocacy groups, publications and neighborhood groups will send a letter to the DOT, federal highway planners and just about any elected official with sway over the project, organizers announced today in a kick-off newsconference.

They hope to succeed where past efforts have failed and get the state and federal government to scale back plans for the interchange project.

History is against them, as the project has repeatedly moved forward despite years of local criticism. Even the Macon City Council has organized against the project at times, to little avail. But this new effort, called the Citizens Coalition for Common Sense Interstates in Macon, represents the largest and most coordinated grass roots movement against it, according to elected officials and advocates who have followed the project for years.

The group does not have an alternate design to suggest, but wants a "more regional plan" to move traffic in the Macon area, with a reworked interchange as a part of the overall plan, Coalition Chairman James Webb said.

"Re-evaluate, scale down, go back to the drawing board," Webb said at this afternoon's news conference.