Latest Forest Hill Road designs ready for unveiling

Contractors fill in a storm drainage ditch along Forest Hill Road as drainage pipe cover the front yard of a home on Normandy Road on 9/02/2015.
Contractors fill in a storm drainage ditch along Forest Hill Road as drainage pipe cover the front yard of a home on Normandy Road on 9/02/2015. jvorhees@macon.com

Conceptual designs for the next phase of the huge Forest Hill Road project will be unveiled Thursday.

The public will be able to see the proposed plans and offer suggestions for improvements on the estimated $13.8 million project that would stretch from Vineville Avenue to Wimbish Road. The informal meeting will be held from 4-7 p.m. at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 432 Forest Hill Road.

As part of the second phase, the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to widen Forest Hill Road from Vineville to Wimbish from two to three lanes.

At Thursday’s meeting, large displays of the proposed designs will be set up, and people will be able to discuss the plans with engineers and others involved with the project, Macon-Bibb County Engineer David Forston said.

The latest design features signal upgrades at Forsyth Road and Ridge Avenue, a new traffic signal at Charter Boulevard and sidewalks along Forest Hill. Residents will also be able to weigh in on whether they want a traffic signal or roundabout at the Wimbish Road intersection.

Once completed, the changes will improve safety and traffic flow along awkward intersections and coordinate traffic lights between Vineville, Forsyth and Ridge, Fortson said.

“The roundabouts are generally safer than signals because you eliminate the T-bone crash, the real serious crashes,” he said. “People have to travel through roundabouts slower than through an intersection. (Roundabouts) do take more land, and some people aren’t comfortable with them. That’s why we want to ask residents which one you prefer.”

Anyone unable to attend Thursday’s meeting can submit statements and questions about the second phase until Jan. 6. They can be sent to Mitchell Greenway, PE, Stantec Consulting Services Inc., 1515 Bass Road, Suite G, Macon, Ga., 31210, or by way of email at mitchell.greenway@stantec.com.

While designs are being completed for the second phase, work continues on the first phase of Forest Hill Road — a two-mile stretch from Northside Drive to Wimbish. The project’s timeline was pushed back until the end of December, but it could take several months into 2017 before the major roadwork is complete, according to a letter from a DOT manager.

As for the next phase, many variables will determine when construction could begin. It’s too early too tell, but a ballpark estimate is three to five years before the first mounds of dirt are moved, Fortson said.

A combination of state and federal funds would be needed to complete the project.

“A lot will depend on when it gets funded,” Fortson said. “It could be ready to go but there is a delay in getting funding, and a lot of rights of way would need to be purchased.”

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph