Downsized Forest Hill Road designs showcased to Macon residents

Forest Hill designs unveiled for second phase

Conceptual designs for the second phase of Forest Hill Road improvements were presented in December 2016. They include widening the road, new traffic signals and sidewalks.
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Conceptual designs for the second phase of Forest Hill Road improvements were presented in December 2016. They include widening the road, new traffic signals and sidewalks.

Several years ago the plans for a Forest Hill Road improvement were too cumbersome for the liking of officials at a church on the busy Macon street.

But Thursday, leaders of St. Francis Episcopal Church were pleased with the conceptual designs presented for a nearly one mile stretch of Forest Hill Road. They were among the Macon residents able to view designs for the second phase of the multi-million dollar project which proposes widening Forest Hill from Vineville Avenue to Wimbish Road from two to three lanes.

Early concepts proposed increasing Forest Hill Road to four or five lanes, which St. Francis priest Ben Wells and Senior Warden Tracie Jenkins say would have been overkill. The project has a target start date of 2020 to 2022 and would take about two years to complete.

“I think this is a vast improvement over the design of say three years ago,” Wells said at the meeting at the church. “Most cities are reclaiming (neighborhoods) like when Boston redid the tunnel so neighborhoods could rejoin together. This proposal here — I can support it.”

The latest design features signal upgrades and a turn lane at Forsyth Road and Ridge Avenue, a new traffic signal at Charter Boulevard and sidewalks along Forest Hill Road. A center two-way left turn lane will also be added.

“Because of the large number of streets, apartments, churches, driveways along there, you have a lot of left turning movement and potential for rear-end collisions,” Macon-Bibb County Engineer David Forston said.

Design firm Stantec Consulting Inc. will take the suggestions from residents and then show the designs to Macon-Bibb County leaders to get their input, Stantec Senior Associate Andrew Kohr said.

Plans call for Forest Hill Road to get new sidewalks that will include a 10-foot-wide multi-use path about twice the size of a standard sidewalk. The conceptual designs also include a realignment of Park Street near Forsyth Road to help prevent some of the blocking of the intersection with Forest Hill Road. Another proposal is to create a cul-de-sac along Drury Drive, which now has an awkward intersection with Ridge Avenue, Fortson said.

A small “pocket park” with landscaping improvements could be added there.

“There shouldn’t be much inconvenience and it might be beneficial because it’ll keep Ridge traffic from them,” Fortson said.

The latest concepts also include the option of either a traffic signal or roundabout at the intersection of Wimbish and Forest Hill roads.

Macon resident Charles Martin said he’s become a roundabout advocate after visiting England where the features are popular. Jenkins also favors the roundabout.

“Once you get used to them they are much safer and easier,” she said.

Construction is ongoing on the first phase of Forest Hill Road improvements that includes work along a two-mile stretch from Northside Drive to Wimbish Road. The major roadwork could be finished near the end of December or possibly several months into 2017.

Statements and questions about the second phase of Forest Hill upgrades can be submitted through Jan. 6. They can be sent to Mitchell Greenway, PE, Stantec Consulting Services Inc., 1515 Bass Road, Suite G, Macon, Ga., 31210, or by email at mitchell.greenway@stantec.com.

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph