DOT to discuss I-75 widening project today in Macon

The Georgia Department of Transportation will hold an information session this afternoon on the widening of Interstate 75 from Arkwright Road to Pierce Avenue.

The drop-in-style session is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. at Riverside United Methodist Church, located at 735 Pierce Ave. The meeting will be in the fellowship hall, according to the DOT.

There won’t be a formal presentation, but DOT officials will be on hand to answer questions, share design plans and accept comments. A court reporter also will be there, the DOT said, to formally record public comments.

The widening from four to six lanes has been controversial for a variety of reasons, and area residents and business owners hope to talk to planners about noise barriers, neighborhood access during and after construction and safety concerns, said Lee Johnson, who lives and owns a business in the area. “We’re not opposed to this project,” Johnson said. “We would like to just have some modifications made to it.”

The project will be funded through the federal stimulus program, and construction costs are estimated at about $90 million. Several bridges will be replaced, and the Arkwright Road and Pierce Avenue interchanges will be redone. The Pierce Avenue area entrance and exit ramps would be moved, and Riverside Drive would be widened to seven lanes at the ramps.

Construction tentatively is scheduled to begin this summer and last for about three years, the DOT has said.

Johnson said the DOT has been “excellent” in providing him information about the project, but several concerns still need to be addressed. He’d like to see more sound barriers included in the project as well as careful consideration to neighborhood access and safety.

“We’ve got an aging population out here,” he said. The DOT is “just looking at as many safety issues as we can.”

The DOT is also accepting written comments on the project until May 17. They can be mailed to Glenn Bowman, state environmental/location engineer, 3993 Aviation Circle, Atlanta, GA 30336-1593.

To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.