I-16/I-75 Improvement Project
Advisory Committee Meeting Summary
Centreplex
June 14, 2005
3:00-5:00p.m.


Advisory Committee Participants:
Betty Lou Browne, Macon Heritage

Sandra Bush, Resident

Lynn Cass, Macon Bibb County Transit

Sid Cherry, Downtown Council

Eugene Dunwody, Sr., Dunwoody/Beeland

Mike Ford, Newtown Macon

Jim David, Ocmulgee Nat’l Monument

Daniel Fischer, Caution Macon

Brian McDavid, Shirley Hills

Chip Cherry, Chamber of Commerce

Steve Massey, Norfolk Southern Railroad

 


Project Team Participants:
Ben Buchan, GDOT

Glenn Bowman, GDOT

Marlo Clowers, GDOT

Theresa Holder, GDOT

Mary Mitchell, GDOT

David Painter, FHWA

Brad Hale, MAAI

Pat Smeeton, MAAI

Will Sheehan, MAAI

Bill Rabold, MAAI

Chris Kingsbury, MAAI

Tim Heilmeier, HNTB

Liz Sanford, Sycamore Consulting

Leah Vaughan, Sycamore Consulting


Discussion Summary

Ms. Liz Sanford opened the meeting with introductions and meeting rules.  Mr. Ben Buchan then restated the project goals of improving the operational efficiency and overall safety of the interchange.  He specifically mentioned the above average number of accidents that occur within the interchange each year.  He then gave a brief summary of the concept development process to date followed by a slightly more detailed synopsis of the previous Advisory Committee Meeting (ACM #5). Included in his synopsis was a reiteration of the Advisory Committee’s requests from ACM #5, which became the action items from the meeting.  The five action items are listed below.

     1)      Estimate the number of properties that would be adversely impacted by the Holliday alternative.

2)      Consider eliminating the “flyover” ramp (westbound CD to I-75 SB).

3)      Consider modifying or eliminating the Spring St. interchange.

4)      Consider leaving left-hand ingress/egress on I-75 SB (within the I-16/I-75 interchange).

5)      Consider aesthetically pleasing structures.

Holliday Alternative

Mr. Hale began with a discussion of the Holliday Alternative.  A display was provided that showed an estimated right-of-way corridor for this alternative.  One of the action items from the previous meeting requested that the design team quantify the property impacts from the Holliday Alternative.  The Holliday Alternative involved rerouting I-16 along the proposed path of the Eisenhower Parkway Extension; therefore, relocating the I-16 / I-75 interchange south along I-75 to the current site of the I-75 / Eisenhower Parkway interchange.  Mr. Hale explained that at least 122 buildings would be impacted, including 48 dual-occupancy structures within the Murphy Homes development.  Mr. Hale elaborated that this number - 122 buildings - was arrived upon by placing a 300’ right-of-way corridor along the existing Eisenhower Parkway.  Three hundred feet is the width of the existing right-of-way corridor along I-16.  Mr. Hale added that the 122 impacts was a conservative estimate and that there would likely be more impacts.  It was also noted that this alternative would have a negative impact to the local traffic network, as it would bisect the area by cutting off many of the streets currently crossing the Eisenhower Parkway.  Several of the busier cross streets would have to be reconstructed as overpasses or underpasses.  In addition to the impacts to properties and the local traffic network, the Holliday Alternative would increase traffic on I-75 between the existing Eisenhower Pkwy and I-16 interchanges.  Mr. Hale noted that this stretch of I-75 would have to be widened to accommodate the additional traffic, requiring the reconstruction of several bridges and causing impacts to Pleasant Hill similar to those currently planned under Alternative #9.  Based on these findings, Mr. Hale stated that the Holliday Alternative has been eliminated from further consideration.  (Following the meeting, Mr. Holliday noted that his plan intended for the interstate to be depressed below the local street level with no impacts to either property or the local traffic network.  He also noted that he had envisioned a multi-level roundabout for the new I-16/I-75 interchange, again with no additional R/W required.)

At this point, several of the Advisory Committee members stated their concerns.  Ms. Betty Lou Browne pointed out that the Holliday Alternative was popular with the locals because it moved I-16 away from downtown Macon, allowing the area along the riverfront to be further developed into an attractive gateway park.  Mr. Daniel Fischer asked if the property impacts from the Holliday Alternative were more or less than those planned under the Eisenhower Extension Project.  The design team answered that they could not say for sure, but the impacts from the Holliday Alternative would likely be much greater than those of the Eisenhower Extension Project.

Alternative #10

The design team developed Alternative #10 in an attempt to address the Advisory Committee’s concerns from the previous meeting.  A large-scale display was provided that depicted a schematic of this alternative on aerial photography.  Handouts were also provided to each of the Advisory Committee members.  Mr. Hale gave a detailed presentation, in which he described the key features with this alternative and the results of the project teams’ traffic analysis.  The following are the primary discussion points from this presentation:

·         One of the project team’s objectives with ALT 10 was to shift some, but not all, traffic from the Spring Street interchange to the Second Street interchange.  This was accomplished by making the following changes:

-          Provide access from Second Street directly to I-16 WB.

-          Remove the ‘flyover ramp’ (WB CD to I-75 SB)

-          Remove the ramp from I-75 NB to Spring Street.

 

The above changes would have the following affect on the project:

-          Access to and from Spring Street would be limited to I-75 north of the I-16/I-75 interchange.

-          Southbound traffic on Gray Hwy destined for I-75 SB would need to take Second Street.

-          Traffic on I-75 NB destined for Gray Hwy would also be routed through Second Street.

-          Increased traffic flow on Second Street would probably require Second Street to be widened, and the intersections at Gray Highway and Emery Highway re-configured.

-          The WB CD would no longer need to be elevated above the mainline.

-          The overall project footprint along I-16 between the I-16/I-75 interchange and Spring Street would be reduced.

·         Another goal with ALT 10 was to minimize impacts to the Pleasant Hill District.  The Advisory Committee had requested that the left-hand ingress and egress on I-75 SB not be revised as proposed with ALT 9 for this reason.  The left-hand vs. right-hand exit issue, however, is not the primary reason why Alternative 9 impacted Pleasant Hill.

The proximity of the Hardeman Ave. interchange to the I-16/I-75 interchange coupled with the high traffic volumes on the I-75 mainline creates a complex and unsafe weaving movement.  ALT 9 corrected this problem by shifting the I-75 NB / I-16 EB split approximately ¾ mile south and re-configuring the entrance ramp from Hardeman Avenue to I-75 NB to span over the new I-16 EB exit ramp.  This configuration, commonly referred to as a ‘braided ramp’ design, requires the displacement of 10 properties within Pleasant Hill along Middle Street.

With ALT 10, the design team removed the braided ramp described above and left the existing configuration of I-75 NB between Hardeman Avenue and I-16 alone.  The proposed right-hand ingress/egress modification on I-75 SB, however, was retained with ALT 10.  This eliminates all but one of the impacted properties in Pleasant Hill, and maintains continuity on the interstate mainline.

·         The design team’s traffic analysis for ALT 10 yielded the following results:

-          An unacceptable weaving movement (level of service ‘F’) occurs on I-16 WB between I-75 and Second Street.

-          The traffic model projected an acceptable weaving movement (level of service ‘C’) on I-16 EB between I-75 and Second Street.  However, due to the number of lanes required and poor system-level continuity (all traffic from I-75 SB continuing on I-16 EB must shift over one or more lanes), this configuration is considered undesirable for traffic flow.

-          An unacceptable weaving movement (level of service ‘F’) occurs on I-75 NB between Hardeman Ave. and I-16.

·         Mr. Hale noted that the following conclusions were made following the design team’s analysis of alternative #10:

-          There is insufficient distance on I-16 between Second Street and I-75 to safely provide ingress/egress without separating service level from system level movements via CD roads.

-          There is insufficient distance on I-75 between Hardeman Avenue and I-16 to safely provide ingress/egress without either braided ramps or a CD system.

-          The design team recommends that ALT 10 be eliminated from further consideration.

Design Year Traffic

Mr. Hale ended his presentation by mentioning that the design year traffic had been updated from 2025 to 2032 to reflect the updated interchange opening date.  Previously, it had been anticipated that the interchange would be open to traffic in 2005 requiring the traffic to be forecasted to 2025; however, the anticipated completion date has been pushed back to 2012 requiring the traffic to be forecasted to 2032. 

Preferred Concept Alternative       

Following Mr. Hale’s presentation, Mr. Ben Buchan announced that GDOT was planning on moving forward with Alternative #9 through the next phase of the project – the NEPA approval process.  GDOT has a responsibility to move the project forward due to the high accident rates and projected future traffic volumes.  He stated that the public involvement process would continue and the Department is committed to mitigating project impacts and providing a context sensitive design.  The next step would be to schedule meetings with individual neighborhood groups as well as a Public Information Open House and Public Hearing.      

Mitigation

Next, Mr. Chris Kingsbury of Moreland Altobelli spoke on the subject of mitigation in the form of landscaping and aesthetics.  He showed slides of mitigation examples from other projects including various aesthetic treatments for walls, noise barriers, bridges, and landscaping.  He also mentioned the possibility of creating a landscaped park area out of the impacted properties in Pleasant Hill.  He stated that the public’s input would be instrumental in determining exactly what sort of aesthetic mitigation was incorporated into the project.

Advisory Committee Comments

 

  • Ms. Sandra Bush expressed concern that the money set aside for mitigation would be spent elsewhere on the project.  The design team assured her that there would be money set aside specifically for mitigation.

 

  • Ms. Bush also requested that the design team incorporate aesthetic elements into the project that reflect Macon’s heritage.  She specifically mentioned how the roof of the Macon Coliseum mimics the shape of the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds.

 

  • Mr. Sid Cherry expressed concern about construction time and public involvement during the construction process.  The design team informed him that the public would be kept informed throughout the construction process, which would take at least 4 years.

 

  • Mr. Mike Ford requested that a pedestrian bridge over the Ocmulgee River (adjacent to I-16) be incorporated into the design.  The design team has discussed constructing a bridge to stage traffic temporarily, which could be converted into a pedestrian bridge for the trail upon completion of the permanent interstate bridges.

 

  • Mr. Brian McDavid requested that no metal sound barriers be used and he expressed interest in improving the railroad bridge over the Ocmulgee River (east of Coliseum Drive) that acts as a dam when it floods.

 

  • Provide good signs for out-of-town drivers.

 

  • Minimize sound impacts to the Ocmulgee National Monument.

 

  • Consider economic impacts to downtown during construction.

 

  • Minimize impacts to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail during construction.

 

  • Ensure this project has been coordinated with the Eisenhower Parkway Extension.

 

Next Steps

Mr. Buchan concluded the meeting by explaining the project team’s next steps in the design process.  Meetings will be conducted with individual neighborhood groups this summer.  A Public Information Open-House (PIOH) meeting will probably be held this fall.  The environmental document should be completed in one year.  A separate PIOH may be held for the Eisenhower parkway Extension project sometime between Fall 2005 and Spring 2006.

 



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