Roads program unveils new public format
Change suggested by CAUTION Macon
By Jennifer Plunkett
The Macon Telegraph
Public meetings of the city-county roads program will have a new format after program officials considered residents' criticism of how the Macon-Bibb County Road Improvement Program conducts its business.
The format will have more structured timeframes for comments and small-group discussions, and will also include a presentation by program officials on the specific project. Officials will allow opportunities for open-floor questions from residents. Still included in the format is the chance for residents to write down comments or voice concerns to a court reporter.
The announcement was made Thursday morning at the regular meeting of the program's technical advisory committee.
CAUTION Macon members, who have been critical of the $300 million roads-improvement program, submitted late last year a list of eight requests to the program, one of which included the format change.
"We hope (the change creates) an orderly input process to address all concerns residents have," said program manager Van Etheridge, who works for Moreland Altobelli Associates Inc., the company managing the roads program.
For months, officials have altered the program's processes after saying they'd been "inflexible," said roads program executive committee chairman Larry Justice.
Last month, the executive committee agreed to allow public discussion during its meetings, before and after votes. This month, the County Commission voted to allow Florida consultant Walter Kulash to review all remaining projects in the program.
"(The change) actually does open up a little bit for the public to give their opinions," said CAUTION Macon member Don Mims, who attended Thursday's meeting. "I like the fact that they're going to allow input in the beginning, explain a little bit more about the project and then allow more input in the end. A step in this direction, if it had been taken a couple years ago, could have eliminated a lot of yellow ribbons."
Resident Judy Rando said she was unfamiliar with CAUTION Macon's request but welcomed the change.
"It would certainly be better than it had been," Rando said. "From meetings I've been to, you'd walk in and they didn't have any general presentation at all. If you had a concern, you could ask about it. But if you didn't understand all parts of it, you wouldn't know what to be concerned about. This seems much more open and helpful."
The next public meeting, for the Bloomfield Drive project, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. April 13 at Rice Elementary School, 3750 Jessie Rice St.
The $121,000 project will include resurfacing the 2.4 mile-stretch from Rocky Creek Road to Bloomfield Road and the addition of curbs, gutters and sidewalks along the project.