Road designs should be flexible, committee decides
By Jennifer Plunkett
The Macon Telegraph
A discussion of sidewalks and road contracts took a philosophical turn Thursday at a meeting of Macon-Bibb County's Road Improvement Program's technical advisory committee.
After months of being questioned by residents about the genesis of the program's road designs, Bibb County Engineer Bob Fountain asked his committee colleagues if the programs's five generic designs should be used simply as guides or as hard-and-fast rules for all roads.
"It's gotten that fundamental," Fountain said. "It's made me go back to the textbook as to why we've done. And I think that's good."
Discussion centered around the design for an urban two-lane road, or collector street, that carries traffic to main thoroughfares. That design has been used on roads such as Forest Avenue, Edna Place and Burton Avenue.
"I think (use of a design) depends on the situation," said Vernon Ryle, a committee member and executive director of the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission. "It's good to have a standard to look toward, but we shouldn't arbitrarily say, 'This is how every collector road should be' without looking at the (individual) project."
Other committee members agreed with Ryle, as did several residents who attended the meeting.
Wesleyan Drive resident Gene Dunwody Sr. said the committee's philosophy on road design needs to be communicated to the engineering staff drawing up the final plans.
"They need to know it's not something that will be done, come hell or high water," Dunwody said.
It is not the first time the committee has responded to residents' concerns. Last month, the committee agreed to take traffic counts for the second time on Houston Road after 30 or so residents came to the committee's meeting. At the same meeting, the committee voted to plant new trees and shrubs and paint guardrails on Forest Avenue after residents said it looked barren and institutional.
In other business, the committee voted to pass along to the executive committee cost estimates and a description of the work involved in installing sidewalks along Riverside Drive, from Ingleside to Pierce avenues. Mayor Jim Marshall had requested the information. The project would cost $420,000 and would put sidewalks along a 1.5 mile stretch of the road. Retaining walls from 3-feet to 7-feet high would have to be built in front of several homes that face Riverside.
Money for the project has not been budgeted, and several committee members said it should be placed on the list of requested projects and addressed once all the planned projects are complete.