THE FALL LINE FREEWAY

vs.

The Eisenhower Parkway Extension

The public has had no opportunity to participate in decisions concerning the GA Department of Transportation(DOT) preferred cross-Macon connector for the Fall Line Freeway. As Warren Williams, president of the Georgia Transportation Alliance states, "It's a typical pattern. The highway advocates develop a notion without input from the people, go out and start the paving, and then try to get the people to ante up." Following are some common sense questions concerning this issue:

1. Exactly where is the Fall Line Freeway?
This east-west highway begins in Columbus, GA, and generally follows State Route 96 to I-75. It then turns North for about 20 miles, entering Macon on I-75 and exiting on Highway 57 toward Augusta. Its proposed cross-Macon connector, the Eisenhower Parkway Extension, was a separate project, which for many years could not be justified by traffic counts. Ga DOT Commissioner Tom Moreland tacked it on to the Fall Line Freeway before he retired.  Mr. Moreland's private firm "Moreland Altobelli" is currently profiting by overseeing all the major road projects in Georgia including the Macon-Bibb County Road Improvement Program.  These contracts amount to over a Billion dollars.  Moreland Altobelli hires most of its personel from the GA DOT.  Many of them, including Mr. Moreland, draw also retirement pay from the GA DOT.  

2. Will the Fall Line Freeway actually increase the amount of traffic coming through Macon?
No. Macon will loose thru traffic when the Highway 96 portion of the Freeway is completed, because most travelers between the Birmingham area and the Savannah/coast area will no longer use I-75 or Highway 80 to I-16. They will go through Columbus and Warner Robins, short-cutting across Highway 96 to/from I-16 and by-passing Macon entirely. Macon can do nothing about this loss, except try to lure some of the traffic back by enhancing and promoting the city's natural and cultural assets in order to become a point-of-destination for heritage tourism (the world's fastest-growing and cleanest industry).

3. How much will Route 1-A cost and how will it be funded?
The 1993 estimated cost of the 3.7-mile Eisenhower Parkway Extension was $106 million dollars. This is over 1/3 as much as it will cost to complete the ENTIRE Fall Line Freeway leg from Macon to Augusta. The proposed four-lane, divided highway would be funded by federal tax dollars, Macon's additional 1-cent sales tax, and the Georgia Road Improvement Program (GRIP). Federal budget deficits are of great concern to the entire nation and GRIP is costing Georgians dearly. A February 23, 1996, article in the Atlanta Constitution cautioned that "the GRIP program has been built on borrowed money, a ballooning debt that will obligate taxpayers to repay $1.5 billion in principle and interest over the next 20 years, even if work stopped today. Next year, more money will be put into debt payment ($116.4 million) than into new construction ($100 million in new bonds authorized by the Legislature."

4. Have all possible routes for the Fall Line Freeway through Macon been considered?
No. Alternative routes have not been carefully explored. DOT and local officials in Macon have never given any good reason why this is their chosen route.  The GRIP program is supposed to utilize existing roads as much as possible. In this case, it would save over $100-million in precious public funds which could provide great benefit if expended wisely. Another $100-million is already earmarked to improve the I-75/I-16 interchange, widen I-16 to Coliseum Drive, construct feeder roads, and upgrade the ramp systems through this stretch. Emery  Highway to Hwy 57 was widened in very recent years and plans are underway to widen Jeffersonville Road from the entrance of Ocmulgee National Monument to Hwy 57(Fall Line Freeway North). Since the Fall Line Freeway enters Macon on I-75, it is prudent and feasible to utilize this existing route, most of which already serves Columbus-Augusta travelers.

5. Traffic congestion at I-75/I-16?   New jobs?   Revitalize Macon?
Will the Eisenhower Parkway Extension relieve traffic congestion of I-75/I-16, create new jobs, or help revitalize downtown Macon as has been stated by its proponents?  No studies have been done to substantiate these claims. As noted above, a traffic decrease at the I-75/I-16 interchange is likely and I-75/I-16 are already slated for upgrade through this stretch. Since Macon has no company large to construct the new highway, its only benefit to the area will come from short term, unskilled labor jobs and food/lodging for out-of-town workers. This "Longest Bridge in Georgia" will route traffic through the Ocmulgee River floodplain, by-passing downtown Macon's heritage attractions and the Ocmulgee National Monument at a time when this area is fighting for much-needed revitalization. At best, the new highway will be a short-cut to the Macon Mall for the benefit of a few at the expense everyone.

7. What does it mean that the land traversed by Route 1A is a Traditional Cultural Property?
The Ocmulgee Old Fields was recently designated the first National Register of Historic Places Traditional Cultural Property (District) east of the Mississippi River. This land is the traditional birthplace of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is transcendently important to their cultural identity. It is also nationally recognized because it preserves the record of a continuum of people and their environment extending from the present back to the First Americans (Clovis Paleo-Indians) of the Ice Age. The TCP encompasses Ocmulgee National Monument, Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the Scott-McCall Archaeological Preserve, Browns Mount, Central City Park, a host of lesser known prehistoric and historic sites, and much of the Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway. It is an irreplaceable and economically valuable extension of the city's downtown attractions.

8. What are some of the other impacts the highway will have on Macon's heritage resouces?
It will destroy wetlands and the deepest peat deposit known in Georgia outside the Okefenokee Swamp. It will further alter floodplain hydrology on the east side of the river, causing additional problems at the already frequently flooded Lamar Village Unit of Ocmulgee National Monument, location of the nations's only remaining "spiral" mound. It will sever the National Monument's "last frontier" and the corridor that brings a rich variety of wildlife to downtown Macon's doorstep. It will destroy newly discovered prehistoric and historic Muscogee (Creek) archaeological sites behind the Macon Levee, which have been deemed eligible for listing on the National Register in their own right. It will degrade the National Monument and the Ocmulgee Heritage Greenway with additional noise, visual intrusion, exhaust fumes, oil run-off, herbicides, and other pollution.

9. Is Route 1-A of the Fall Line Freeway linked to raising the Macon Levee?
Yes. The highway's interchange with I-16 will be constructed on the Scott-McCall Archaeological Preserve in the sensitive floodplain area immediately downstream from downtown Macon, where obstructions and constriction of the river between the Macon Levee and I-16's berm roadbed in this area caused Macon's disastrous upstream flooding in 1994. The Levee breached in this area allowing upstream waters to recede within a few hours. Despite these problems and the fact that only a small number of businesses are presently located behind the Levee, documents show that City engineers and the Army Corps of Engineers have plans to raise Levee to coincide with construction of the Eisenhower Parkway Extension. Maps in the draft 2015 Plan for Macon-Bibb County show the floodplain behind the Levee shaded in for industrial development, though several existing industrial parks sit half-vacant.

10. What are some additional hidden costs of this project?
Supporters of the Eisenhower Parkway Extension say it must not dead-end at Seventh Street "as a highway to nowhere." Yet, in the late 1980's, the stated need for this highway was to provide quick access to I-75 from the old Seventh Street Industrial area. The Extension, as now completed, serves that purpose. Still, they insist on the expenditure of a massive number of tax dollars to continue the road across the river, with millions more required to extend Edgewood Avenue and Lower Poplar Streets into the floodplain to connect with the new highway, with traffic lights at each intersection along the so-called "Freeway." Without the Eisenhower Parkway Extension, there would no reason to extend these roads. Some of the savings could fund improvements to the long-neglected, but historic, Seventh Street and Broadway area. These streets are logical downtown business routes, which could easily serve as the third leg of the highly touted Triad Concept. Upgrading this section of the city would encourage new businesses to locate there and would benefit all local citizens, who now avoid this area when possible and are ashamed for out-of-town visitors to see it.

11. Why do a certain Bibb County "leaders" want this highway so badly that they refuse to even
Only they know for sure. However, it is obvious that they define "progress" only in terms of constructing expensive new roads. They have grossly underestimated public concern for budget deficits, cutbacks to important programs, and demands for additional taxes to fund quality-of-life needs, such as adequate educational, law enforcement, and social safety net systems. Some of these men have little regard for free speech or the rights of others. For example, they have: Instigated a letter-writing campaign which spread misleading information and unsubstantiated claims concerning the need for this project.; Attempted, at taxpayers' expense, to influence (coerce?) representatives from the Muscogee (Creek)Nation into retracting their opposition, then publicly suggested the Creeks only wanted a casino; Referred in a newspaper article to the Muscogee (Creek) people as a "radical, militant bunch;" Stated on National Public Radio that, if the opposition doesn't give in, they'll just "knock 'em down;" Tried to intimidate the opposition by threatening careers and families; Hired a Washington lobbiest at a cost to taxpayer of $84,000 to fight the Traditional Cultural Property designation and push this project through Congress; Tried to persuade legislators to get the highway exempted from the requirements of federal laws designed to protect nationally significant cultural and natural resources. Because of these actions, many local citizens are afraid of reprisals if they speak out against this project.

12. Who, besides the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, opposes the Route?
It is opposed by a host of highly reputable organizations and individuals, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Parks and Conservation Association, the Archaeological Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Society for Georgia Archaeology, the Georgia Indian Council and Native Americans across the country, the Environmental Alliance for Central Georgia, the Center for Law in the Public Interest, Citizens for Responsible Government, Friends of Ocmulgee Old Fields, CAUTION Macon and others who realize that if a road of such limited value can be bulldozed through this national treasure, nothing in this country is safe from local porkbarrel projects.

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YOU CAN HELP!
For more information or to express your concerns, send your messages to "Freeway" at one of the addresses below. Your concerns will be forwarded for you to the Federal Highways Admin., Department of the Interior, the Muscogee (Creek) National Council, U.S. Congressman Saxby Chambliss, and the Mayor of Macon.

Mail: P. O. Box 4122, Macon, GA 31201 FAX: 912-742-4952 E-Mail: teeth@mindspring.com

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