Letter to Editor - The Macon Telegraph
120 Broadway Macon, GA 31201
This text was emailed on 2-24-99. It was published [slightly edited] on Feb 27 or 28.
Dissection of Eisenhower Extension route
Citizens of Macon, prepare yourselves for another slick sales pitch and "infomercial" from the Georgia Department of Transportation. On March 9th, the Ga DOT will bring their "informational" campaign to our city auditorium. Below are a few plain facts you can bet the DOT will not share with you at the meeting. It will be up to you - concerned citizens to raise these issues and write them onto comment sheets.
1. The Fall Line Freeway enters Macon from the South on I-75. After making a 90-degree turn onto the proposed cross-Macon route at Eisenhower Parkway, you will encounter a stop light at Houston Avenue. Stop light at Third Street. Stop light at Broadway. Feels a lot like just an extension of Eisenhower by now, doesn't it? Now swoop downhill to a light at Edgewood Avenue. Then gas your car up 70 feet over the Brosnan Railyards, then heat your brakes down to another stop light at Lower Poplar. Drive over a newly discovered and paved over National Register eligible historic Creek archaeological site. Then accelerate up again over this so-called "freeway's" interchange with I-16. This interchange will sit on the Scott-McCall Archaeological Preserve. Seven acres of dirt ramps will clog the Ocmulgee River floodway. The noise and smell of traffic will damage the Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway, and the Ocmulgee Old Fields Traditional Cultural District (first National Register of Historic Places listing of its kind east of the Mississippi River) between the Main Unit and the Lamar Mounds and Village Unit of Ocmulgee National Monument. Across the interchange, the highway will destroy the deepest peat deposit [organic history record] in our state outside the Okefenokee Swamp. Cement topped berm will sever the wetland corridor which currently brings an unusual variety of native wildlife to Ocmulgee National Monument and Macon's downtown doorstep.
[see if your best artist, Ric Thornton can envision the rollercoaster above? A road-hugger's dream come true!]
2. It is barely 1-1/2-miles farther for the Fall Line Freeway to continue across Macon via I-75/I-16/Emery Highway. The interstate is free of the mandatory "stop and go" of the Eisenhower route. There is a $100-million project already scheduled to improve the I-75/I-16 interchange. I-16 will be widened and its ramps improved. Jeffersonville Road will soon be five-laned from the entrance to Ocmulgee National Monument to Highway 57 (Fall Line Freeway North). The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission has completed a study for a Cross-County Connector, which includes another river crossing in the Arkwright area just above River North to relieve congestion at Gray Highway/I-16/downtown Macon - one of the primary justifications listed for the proposed Eisenhower Parkway Extension. Routing the Fall Line Freeway on existing four-lane or better highways will take it within sight of the Macon Centreplex, Fort Hawkins, Ocmulgee National Monument, and downtown Macon's attractions. With these factors in mind, drive the route and you will see that it would have little additional impact on Historic Districts or residential neighborhoods.
3. When the Highway 96 portion of the Fall Line Freeway from Columbus to I-75 is finished, most traffic from the east-northeast now utilizing U.S. 80 or I-85/I-75 to pickup I-16 to Savannah and the coast will no longer come to Macon. LOOK AT YOUR MAP. Instead, they will go to Columbus, take
Highway 96 to I-75. Then, they will go straight east on soon-to-be-four-laned Highway 96 through Warner Robins to I-16, saving dozens of miles of driving distance. Past I-16, Highway 96 is already four-laned to Jeffersonville and it is just a matter of time until there is a four-lane road on to Augusta. Why do you think Houston County has not been taking advantage of the current controversy attempting to renew their efforts to get the Fall Line Freeway? Eventually, the Fall Line Freeway through Macon will consist only of a few highway signs. Macon's wisest move at this point is to become a big enough attraction that some of these travelers will drive out of their way to come here.
4. The real reason Bibb County's politicians want the Eisenhower Parkway Extension is to promote industrial development in the "vacant" floodplain behind the Macon Levee. This will require raising the Levee, a project that was submitted last year, but withdrawn by the Corps of Engineers because their data was faulty. After the Flood of '94, it became obvious that constriction of the river between the Levee and I-16's berm roadbed caused upstream flooding of residences, businesses, and roadways. Raising the Levee will increase flooding upstream. Homes and businesses along Riverside Drive will suffer higher water levels than ever before. And placing an additional impediment in the floodplain just South of downtown, added to the exploding rate of development upstream around Arkwright, is a recipe for even greater future disasters. Instead of envisioning "smoke stacks and big trucks" behind the Macon Levee, Bibb County should return to the concept of those who founded the city and in 1825 set aside the area below Seventh Street for "health and recreation."
We need leaders who will encourage activities that increase the quality of life of local citizens and provide additional attractions for visitors.
5. Why did the company contracted by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to prepare a multi-million dollar, supposedly unbiased, Environmental Impact Statement of alternative cross-Macon routes for the Fall Line Freeway rename their study "Eisenhower Parkway Extension"? And when the Commissioner of GDOT publicly stated, "We will in this battle," what are citizens to think? One thing is sure, the proposed Eisenhower Parkway Extension project will be tied up for many additional years by law suits brought by an array of reputable national organizations, including the Archaeological Conservancy (headquartered in New Mexico) which owns the Scott-McCall Archaeological Preserve. This almost 300-acre tract was donated to Ocmulgee National Monument in 1994, but Larry Justice and his buddies have done everything possible to block legislation that would expand the park's boundaries. Also, they recently opposed northward expansion of Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. They disrespect all portions of the Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway/Ocmulgee Old Fields Traditional Cultural District which they fear might divert their plan for the Eisenhower Parkway Extension.
6. The original plan for the Monument was to aquire all the Old Fields as a National Park. At that time it was said to be the most important Native American historical site east of the Missisippi River. Any construction now makes impossible the completion of our parent's dream for a National Park across the river from downtown Macon.
The proposed Eisenhower Parkway Extension is not just a local issue. Many people from many states already know it will use federal funds to degrade nationally significant cultural and natural resources. American Indians and others outside the area who care about this country's irreplaceable legacy realize that if a local porkbarrel highway can be bulldozed through the Ocmulgee Old Fields Traditional Cultural District, nothing is sacred or safe. Before this mess is concluded, Macon's reputation will be further tarnished on a national scale.
Attend, think carefully, and comment wisely at the DOT's "Public Information Meeting" to be held at Macon City Auditorium, Room A on Tuesday March 9th from 4-7PM.
Visit the website at www.hollidaydental.com for links to additional information about these issues.
Have CAUTION, Macon. Be sure you consider the facts before its too late, then do what is right for the city, for Middle Georgia, for Southeastern Native Americans, and for the United States of America as a whole.
Lindsay D. Holliday
(912) 742-8699 3091 Ridge Ave. 31204 office 746-5695
360 Spring Street Macon, GA 31201
Fall Line Freeway: http://www.mindspring.com/~teeth/facts.htm
Caution Macon: http://mindspring.com/~teeth/caution.htm
Back to Critical Issues
A Call to Action
Senator Coverdell has been leaning on the FHWA to get the FLF project completed. Please send an e-mail to Senator Coverdell at firstname.lastname@example.org. The e-mail should express opposition to the Ga. DOT preferred route, A-I, and ask that Coverdell require Ga. DOT to find an alternative route. Thanks.
Coverdell has his own web page with an e-mail link if people want to do that. Please do this as soon as possible and send e-mails out to others asking the same.
You can help preserve the Old Fields and its irreplacable cultural resources. Write to the Secretary of Interior and tell him there are reasonable and feasible alternatives to construction of this road through the Old Fields. Tell him that you oppose any attempt desicrate these sacred lands.
US Department of Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240
Write to your Congressman and Senators and tell them federal money should not be appropriated for construction of a road through the Ocmulgee Old Fields. Ask them to oppose any legislation that would exempt this project from the requirements of section 4(F) of the Department of Transportation Act. Section 4(F) requires that Georgia DOT demonstrate that there are no feasible and prudent alternatives to the proposed route.
For addresses of your representatives in Washington, visit the Capweb.
Return to the Friends of Ocmulgee Old Fields Homepage