Alice Roberts can’t wait for the state to tear down her house to help make way for the widening of Jeffersonville Road.
“Someone has to give up for the greater good,” said Roberts, who lives near the Emery Highway split. “I just hope they can hurry it up.”
Residents at Thursday night’s public meeting about Jeffersonville Road seemed mostly worried about how long it would take to widen the road from two lanes to five. Construction is expected to wrap up in 2017.
The meeting at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church was busy, with about 80 people arriving in the first half of the three-hour open house. Roadwork also would reach up Millerfield Road toward the church, but most of the work will be on Jeffersonville Road itself. The project includes adding sidewalks and a turn lane while doubling the number of travel lanes.
Planning for the $24.6 million Jeffersonville Road project was launched with money from Bibb County’s 1994 special purpose local option sales tax, but delays set in. An environmental study took about six tries to complete, said Van Etheridge, program manager for the Macon-Bibb County Road Improvement Program, who said people want the road widened soon.
“Everybody I talked to is all for it,” Etheridge said. “They just want to know when we’re getting started. And that’s the bad news I had to tell them, ‘not right away.’ ”
Each part of the widening project would place a sidewalk or multi-purpose path on each side of Jeffersonville and Millerfield roads. The roads now are mostly two lanes with no sidewalks.
The expansion is a long-awaited relief to Barbara Howard, a retiree from Robins Air Force Base who lives off Millerfield Road. She sees handicapped people sometimes with wheelchairs in the street because there’s nowhere else for them to travel.
“I’m all for it. We want to see this completed in our lifetimes,” Howard said.
Roberts said she didn’t know her house was slated for demolition until she arrived at Thursday’s meeting. In all, some 12 houses and two businesses are expected to be demolished, most of them close to Emery Highway and the entrance to the Ocmulgee National Monument. Officials plan to buy right-of-way beginning this summer, and could buy everything they need for a wider road by mid-2014. Construction likely would begin in 2015.
Roberts said the upgrades are needed.
“It is a good project, and the road is dangerous,” she said.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.