Georgia I-16/I-75 Improvement Project
Meeting I-16/I-75 Improvements - Local Group Meeting Summary
Date February 7, 2002
Group Shirley Hills / North Highland Community Meeting
Vineville United Methodist Church
Number of Attendees 24



Ms. Liz Sanford, Consultant Facilitator, called the meeting to order with a review of ground rules and agenda. Ms. Sanford thanked Mr. Brian McDavid for his help in organizing the meeting.

Ms. Sanford then introduced Mrs. Angela Alexander. Mrs. Alexander stated that she was the Assistant State Urban Design Engineer, and that she would be speaking on behalf of Mr. Joe Palladi, the State Urban Design Engineer, who was unable to attend the meeting. Mrs. Alexander indicated that it is the goal of the Department to keep the community involved in the interstate improvement process. She thanked Mr. McDavid and the rest of the meeting participants for their interest and involvement.

Following self-introductions, Mrs. Alexander gave a brief synopsis of project activities since the last community meeting at Shirley Hills, which was held in January 2001. Project activities included a railroad relocation study, a traffic study, hydrology study, noise and air study, and submittal of the draft environmental document that is currently under review by GDOT Office of Environment and Location. Mrs. Alexander noted that the primary design improvements had been delayed while New Town Macon and local officials discussed and evaluated the merits of relocating the railroad. The railroad issue was finally resolved in a meeting with the Mayor, New Town Macon and other local government officials in November 2001.

Mrs. Alexander then introduced Mr. Brad Hale, Consultant Project Manager. Mr. Hale defined the project area, referenced a handout detailing traffic and accident data in the project area, and discussed the projectís proposed improvements and alignments. Major points discussed relating to the concept include:

Throughout the presentation there were comments and questions from attendees. These notes were mostly related to the need and purpose of the project, especially if other alternate projects in the Macon area are undertaken. Mr. Hale explained that many of the comments were most appropriate to the Macon area planning process. Mr. Hale stated that traffic volumes and accident data support the need for improvements to this corridor. This section of interstate is characterized by heavy commuter traffic and ingress/egress problems at multiple interchanges.

Several subsequent questions pertained to the proposed Fall Line Freeway and its impact on the need for this project. Mr. Hale responded that the Fall Line Freeway would not address the traffic and operational problems at this location.

Mr. Todd Hill, Consultant Environmental Manager, was then asked to present potential environmental impacts. Mr. Hill stated that GDOT is currently reviewing the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) report. Mr. Hill explained that an EA and an EIS require the same environmental studies. Based on the studies completed for this project, the environmental impacts identified do not appear to be significant. As such, the Department believes that an EA will be sufficient for this project

In response to a question about interagency coordination and existing local projects, Mr. Hill noted that the EA looks closely at potential impacts to the planned park. He further noted that coordination efforts between the park planners and the project team have been substantial.

Based on the formula for determining funding, the area will be allotted approximately $1.5 million for construction of noise walls. Noise walls come in two types Ė absorptive and reflective. Absorptive walls absorb sound, and reflective walls reflect sound up and away. Both types are effective. It was noted that reflecting the sound is an effective method for reducing noise because distance equals dissipation. Mr. Hill discussed the shadow of the noise wall and stated that noise impacts will not occur outside the shadow zone of a noise barrier.

Mr. Hill then presented a slide show to illustrate the various types of noise walls available. He presented the standard metal wall with landscaping, and more decorative types of noise barriers such as poured concrete and brick. Mrs. Alexander indicated that the Department would work with the I-16/I-75 Project Citizens Advisory Committee to determine noise abatement that meets Federal guidelines and the needs of the community.

Ms. Sanford then commenced the designated question and answer portion of the meeting. She asked for questions from the floor:

Questions and Answers

Throughout the meeting there was an on-going discussion relating to the type of traffic found on the interstate system in Macon (i.e. truck traffic, through traffic (Savannah to Atlanta, Florida to Atlanta), or local commuter traffic) and how traffic gets to the interstate (i.e. Gray Highway, Emery Highway, 2nd Street, Spring Street, and 5th Street). Ms. Sanford asked for confirmation of her impression that meeting participants believed these larger transportation planning issues had not yet been fully addressed. Mr. Hale explained that we are looking at how many cars will be in the corridor in 20 years, while working to reduce accidents and improve operations for present conditions. Mr. Hale also indicated that all trips beginning or ending in Macon are considered to be local traffic.

Ms. Sanford called on Mrs. Alexander to discuss the next steps. Mrs. Alexander stated that the Citizens Advisory Committee would meet before the Public Hearing for the project, which will most likely be in the late summer or early fall. A newsletter will be distributed before the Public Hearing. Mrs. Alexander also asked the meeting attendees to call her if they had questions or concerns.

Mr. Brian McDavid thanked everyone for coming and stated that the community needs to work with the local MPO staff to deal with local transportation planning issues.

The meeting was adjourned.