Macon-Bibb County leaders celebrated Thursday morning the completion of the first phase of a project that’s been in the works for two decades.
The ceremony was held for the reopening of a half-mile stretch of roadway that’s part of the $8 million project linking the Mercer University area with downtown. Macon-Bibb leaders credited the vision of officials and local residents passing a one-cent tax for making the Second Street corridor project a reality.
Discussions of a south downtown connector began about 20 years ago, Mayor Robert Reichert said. Finally, in 2011, the project was part of a special purpose local option sales tax approved by voters. Thursday’s event was held at the intersection of Little Richard Penniman Boulevard and Telfair Street where new traffic lights have been installed.
The first phase, completed in about 120 days, rerouted Penniman between Nussbaum Avenue and Telfair Street. It features new lights, 10-foot-wide sidewalks and more green space, including a doubling of the size of the small Smith Park.
The project is proof of the good that comes from SPLOST money, Reichert said.
“Thank goodness for the leadership of the former Bibb County Commission and leadership of the former Macon City Council that they thought enough to include it in the SPLOST package among many other needed improvements,” he said.
The next SPLOST vote is expected in 2016.
“You need to be aware, as we have as leadership, that we keep the SPLOST effort moving so we can continue doing these things,” said John Swift, who serves on the Macon-Bibb SPLOST advisory committee.
In the upcoming days, construction should begin on the next phase of the project that will involve a quarter-mile stretch past Telfair Street. There also will be work performed on Hazel Street, including storm draining improvements, before the final phase of replacing the Second Street “hump bridge.” Construction and engineering crews are working with Norfolk Southern to build the bridge that goes over a rail line.
The entire project remains on target to be finished by about September 2016. It’s part of the revitalization of the I-75 Mercer University Drive exit.
The project was designed by T.Y. Lin International, and the lead contractor is Chris R. Sheridan & Co. Subcontractors are Macon-based Waters & Sons Construction and Paving, and Rowland Engineering.
To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter