Forest Hill Road Homepage

More Letters to the Macon Telegraph

Forest Hill Road

   Letter(s) to Telegraph - November 2011  

Macon, Ga

SOS forest

    Bibb County's - "Roads Improvement Program"  



To: News and Editorial Editors
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 13:37 
To: ,,,
Subject: Forest Hill Road   update on boondoggle 


Plans to supersize Forest Hill Road continue sliding towards an enormous disaster.  Georgia Power officials have told homeowners that the power poles will be moved away from the road (de)construction zone as early as January.  To move the power lines, and make way for the bulldozers, large swaths of trees will be cut from both sides of the road. 

Near my property, where shade trees arch over the road and even touch, the plans show 150 foot wide clearings to expose the hills to be cut down and the valleys to be filled in to produce a flat, wide surface for pavement. 

The existing 22 feet of pavement will be more than double-widened to 44-77 feet including sidewalks.  Sidewalks and some turn lanes are needed but they could be constructed in a much less destructive manner.  Which brings us to design. 

The redesign of Forest Hill Road (FHR) is the issue.  Almost everyone agrees that improvements are needed.  Traffic flow at intersections, speed controls, and pedestrian safety, need to be addressed.   Citizens have found a much less expensive way to accomplish these goals. 

The neighborhood and friends paid a highly qualified engineer, Rick Chellman, to develop an alternate plan for FHR during Mediation.  Bibb County officials have never seriously looked at these plans.  Bibb Commissioners promised in 2008 to bring Mr Chellman down to Macon to review his plans, but then they later reneged.  Bibb Chairman Sam Hart and Mayor Reichert wrote a letter to GDOT in 2009 and asked them to restart the FHR project without any design modifications.  

On May 23rd, I pleaded with Mayor Reichert to ask GDOT for a more reasonable design.  Reichert told me that  "GDOT says they will not accept any redesign... They would rather stop the project altogether".  This did not sound logical to me.  So I wrote the GDOT Chief Engineer for clarification: 

Letter dated 5-24-11  --  To Georgia DOT Chief Engineer, Gerald Ross:

Dear Mr Ross,
Yesterday evening I was discussing the Forest Hill Road (FHR) project with Macon Mayor, Robert Reichert at City Hall. 

Mayor Reichert identified you as the pivotal person who told him that any design changes to this project would jeopardize the funding. 
Did he understand your position correctly? 

And, more specifically:
If this project is modified to better serve the community,
and the design still meets federal requirements,
and the changes result in savings of both state and federal construction funds,
Would you support the modified project, or would you work to deny funding for the project as redesigned?

- Lindsay Holliday
and the FHR Mediation Team

Ross refuses to answer this letter.  I have sent this letter numerous times to Ross.  Copies were sent to all local and state officials who hold any sway over this project.  I have even spoken to Ross on the phone about this, but I did not record it.  I did record Mr Ross in a meeting in Atlanta (2-28-11) when he instructed me and FHR group to "turn off all recorders" (and place them outside the room).   

Official actions of Ross, Reichert, Hart and others indicate that they may be acting in bad faith. 

They refuse to consider a better plan. 

This situation is unacceptable on so many levels  --  Whether the reader is a tree hugger, a Tea Party conservative, a city planner, or anyone who pays the local, state, federal, gas or SPLOST taxes that are being used to fuel this fiasco. 

Public opinion is officially documented as strongly opposing this project design from its very beginning.  At the 1st public meeting in 2001, the written comments were 85% against the GDOT designs.  Over 900 signatures were collected in October 2006 of citizens who want a new design  [1], [2 ],[3 ]. At the latest public comment period in June 2011, of the over 165 comments,  97% oppose the GDOT designs. 

The next meeting of road building officials in Bibb County is scheduled for November 29 at 9am at the Bibb County Engineering Annex, 760 Third St.  Public citizens may only speak at the very beginning of this meeting. 

The roads officials at this meeting have the power to immediately repave FHR and add turn lanes at the most congested intersections.  Then a better design can be implemented in phases.  This is what most citizens want.  This is what the citizens need to demand.

This letter is webposted with full documentation at:

- Lindsay Holliday
and the FHR Mediation Team

Letter above was modified slightly, printed on two sides of one sheet of paper, and distributed to Macon City Council at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 at 6pm.  Two citizens addressed Council - Lindsay Holliday and Susan H Martin.  There were a total of 9 Citizens attending who were there to support the message. 

Hidden costs of the GDOT plan include millions to move the power poles that really do not n\need to be moved.  This "hidden" cost will be paid by Ga Power customers.  Another hidden cost is the loss of the neighborhood tax base along FHR.  The GDOT design will cause blight, homeowner flight, increased crime and higher speed accidents.  None of these expenses are included in the official GDOT "construction costs".

The latest SPLOST that won the vote a few weeks ago opens new possibilities for FHR. $millions are scheduled to be spent on various roads projects.  Mayor Reichert  wasted no time in asking for over $400,000-- for his pet project to redesign 2nd Street.  City Council, on 11-15-11, wisely deferred his request because they understand that the more critical priority-need for us is to purchase a new police/fire radio system.  Nevertheless, this incident illustrates the wide discretion the Mayor has in administering these SPLOST funds.  A small potion of the Mayor's 400,000 request could be used to redesign FHR.  This would save millions in construction dollars.  It is the fiscally responsible thing to do. 

"blambet" responds to the letter above:
She wrote:
Lindsay:  I live off of FH Rd. and I do want the road widened.  The trees on FH are very dangerous as they are now.  I had a dear friend die on Forsyth Rd. from a dead tree that fell on her car in front of Weslyen during a bad storm.  At this time on FH and Old Lundy Rd. we still see peoples property that has not been cleaned up since the last storem that we had.  The property owners apparently do not have the money to cut the trees and haul them away.It would look so much nicer to see a beautiful landscape than big trrees laying in someone's yard dead.  The trees at the corner of Old Lundy and F.H. are unsightly and they all should be cut down.  New trees grow very fast and it would make our area in north Macon something to be proud of...

 We Answered on 11-23-2011 7pm:
Dear "blamet",
I agree.
We want the road to be widened too. The Chellman plan adds at least 10 feet of width everywhere.  On the southern section, it adds 22 feet to the existing width.  There are even wider areas at the intersections.  Plus there is additional paving for sidewalks.  Please contact me if you need more details.   I guess I was wrong to assume that everyone remembered the details of our compromise plan developed during the 2008 mediation.

I am very sorry about the death of your friend on Forsyth Road from a tree fall.  That was a very unusual accident.  Many more accidents and deaths are due to speeding.  It was a speeding car that killed my Dad on Forest Hill in front of his mailbox in 2007.  

Modern road safety research proves that wooded roads are safer, apparently because most drivers automatically Slow Down when trees surround the road. 

Conservation of existing tree canopy saves a lot clean water.  Water is an increasingly valuable resource.  It make dollars and cents to save trees when it is unnecessary to remove them.  

Again, I will be happy to explain more details or provide you with documentation if you so desire.

We are All interested in a better, safer road.

- Lindsay
and the FHR Mediation Team

about the
hypertext links:


photo of FHR Mediation Team

congressman Marshall inquiry in July 2010

2009 restarts:
no funding for construction is planned until 2014, according to local DOT project manager Clinton Ford.

US Rep Jim Marshall tried to assist the citizens in 2010, but his efforts were rebuffed by Reichert and Hart in a letter dated 7-14-10.

- 900 newer Petitions -
Signatures collected in October 2006 of citizens who want a new design.
(Best results by Downloading files first - then Open)
264  citizen signatures here [pdf]. 
And 330 more citizen signatures  plus 23 duplicates here [pdf ].  
And here are pages 28-45 {pdf - 3MB]

Letter to Ross

- CAUTION Macon -

Forest Hill Road