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Public to get say on Fall Line Freeway route in Peach, Crawford

By Christopher Schwarzen
The Macon Telegraph

Trying to advance the Fall Line Freeway, the Georgia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing Thursday in Peach County on a proposed widening project.

A public hearing will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday in the cafeteria of Peach County High School, 900 Campus Drive, Fort Valley. The hearing is on a proposed widening project for the Fall Line Freeway. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend, state officials said.

The DOT plans to widen Ga. 96 between the Flint River and the Fort Valley bypass from two to four lanes with a 44-foot grass median. Interstate medians are normally 60 to 100 feet wide.

Once widened, the five-mile stretch of road will become part of the Fall Line Freeway, a highway route linking Columbus, Macon and Augusta.

"From Columbus to the Flint River, every part of the Fall Line Freeway is under construction or involved in environmental studies," said Tom Queen, a DOT district planning and programming engineer.

Transportation officials have completed an environmental assessment for this road project that cuts through Peach and Crawford counties, Queen said, and has found no significant effects along the route.

"There are some wetland issues, but we will be bridging them, so they're not affected," said Jonathan Cox, a DOT transportation environmental planner. "There are few displacements and no endangered species in the area."

Two parallel bridges will be built over Nakomis Creek, along with two more over Central of Georgia Railroad tracks, he said.

Area residents are asked to attend the public hearing and comment on the project, Queen said. Once comments are collected and studied, the project will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for funding.

Construction costs are expected to be more than $18 million, with another $1 million needed for right-of-way purchases. Local governments will fund utility-line relocations, Queen said.

"We hope to get federal funding for this project, or we will have to rely on state funds," he said.

Construction could begin as early as June 2001 and is expected to take at least two years.

From Fort Valley, the Fall Line Freeway is expected to follow portions of Ga. 49 to Interstate 75, Queen said.

"We'll be using existing highway for a long part of that stretch," he said.

To contact Christopher Schwarzen, call 744-4213 or e-mail



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