Houston & Peach

Ga. 96 widening to I-16 will have to wait

Tim Golden, district representative on the Georgia Department of Transportation board, gets a laugh during a meeting with elected officials in Warner Robins on Thursday.
Tim Golden, district representative on the Georgia Department of Transportation board, gets a laugh during a meeting with elected officials in Warner Robins on Thursday. wcrenshaw@macon.com

Although the widening of Ga. 96 in Houston County is expected to be completed later this year, the state has no immediate plans to extend it to Interstate 16.

That’s what Georgia Department of Transportation officials said in a meeting Thursday with Warner Robins city officials as well as members of the local General Assembly delegation.

Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins asked whether widening Ga. 96 to I-16 is on the horizon.

“I don’t think there are any immediate plans to do that,” said Michael Presley, DOT district engineer. “There’s different options on how to make that connection in the future but at this point there is no definite plan.”

Widening that section has been talked about for years but funding has not been approved. Tim Golden, who is the 8th Congressional District representative on the state DOT board, said after the meeting that it remains a project of interest.

“There are active conversations going on now,” he said. “Where it goes, I don’t know.”

The meeting included most of the city council, Mayor Randy Toms, state Rep. Shaw Blackmon and state Sen. Larry Walker III, as well as other city officials.

Councilman Chuck Shaheen said congestion on Watson Boulevard, which is a state highway, remains one of the city’s biggest traffic problems. He suggested adding additional left turn lanes on Watson at the intersection of Carl Vinson Parkway, so that there would be two left turn lanes in each direction to move more cars through when the left turn signal is green.

“It’s something we will look at it,” Presley said. “It’s possible.”

The widening of Ga. 96 in Houston County to five lanes has been a $100 million project, including $19.5 million in local sales tax dollars and the rest coming from the state. The hope has been to create a 5-lane connector all the way from I-16 to I-75.

Two of the three phases in Houston have been completed and the third is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1

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