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  Forest Hill Road   

SOS forest
  - Meeting  -
- Thursday, June 17th, 2010  at St Francis Church -




Meeting Summary
Hi everyone,
I just wanted to give you an update on the Forest Hill Road meeting last night (6-17-10). Those of us who were there were enthused and excited. Those of you who couldn’t attend missed a good one! For the first time in 12-13 years, we felt as if someone from GDOT and an elected official was listening. Shocker! But, kudos to Senator Robert Brown, his aide, Doug Bennett, and to the three GDOT officials who were faced with finding answers to the numerous, and sometimes difficult questions posed to them.
The meeting started around 6 pm with a power point presentation by members of the FHR mediation team. It lasted about 30 minutes and drew praise, even from the GDOT personnel that attended. (One of them told my wife, Susan, that she talked like an engineer! She neglected to tell him, that Joe Palldi, the former head of Urban Design for GDOT, asked her after an FHR meeting 6-7 years ago, if she would like to come to work for him at GDOT!!)  The rest of the two hours were taken up with comments, questions and some answers.

The members of the GDOT team were Ben Buchan P.E. (State Urban Design Engineer), Bobby Hilliard, P.E. (State Program Delivery Engineer) and Clifford Ford, P.E. (Project Manager for the FHR project) and Senator Robert Brown and his aide, Doug Bennett.

 The mediation team pointed out many mistakes in the Environmental Assessment of this project including a 30% overstated error in the safety record of the road (it’s 30% safer than stated to help make the case to over-design it!), the overstated and inaccurate traffic projections which Charles Richardson of the Macon Telegraph has fondly described as the “stuff of Houdini!”, listing a perennial creek as a seasonal one (that makes a big difference in mitigation negotiations), and numerous other festering problems with the proposed design that have been pointed out over the years to many other GDOT, MAAI, Stantec, Federal Highway (FHWA), and elected officials, all of which seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

 The huge footprint of this proposed design, particularly at the intersections of FHR, Ridge Avenue and Wimbish Road was mentioned often. We also explained that if- if- their projections of traffic counts were to be accurate (which they  aren’t) the net effect would be to “dump” that much more traffic onto Vineville Avenue which is already at, or beyond capacity, and there are no plans on the books to deal with that manmade and critical future problem. There is no feasible or cost effective way to widen Vineville beyond what it is now.

The problems with storm water runoff were addressed and explained to GDOT. We explained that the GDOT team has accepted a standard which is sure to cause increased flooding for the northern section of FHR. There has already been a lawsuit filed and won by a neighbor against the county several years ago from flooding caused by the widening of Northside Drive without sufficient and competent engineering to control it. The same thing will happen if FHR is widened to the proposed design. The moderator also pointed out that for 12-13 years, there has been “across the chest” finger pointing (just as there is in the ongoing oil spill disaster in the Gulf) from every agency involved in this project toward each other. Historically, it’s been a blame game with no one wanting to be held accountable. There’s more, much more, but I think you get the point!
I would like to mention, and thank profusely, the neighborhood organizations who sent representatives to learn more about the issue and to support the FHR neighborhood, and indeed, their community: Vineville Neighborhood, Winship Hills Neighborhood, Rosa Taylor Neighborhood, Edna Place Neighborhood, Riverside Park Neighborhood, Houston Road Neighborhood, and the Corbin Avenue Neighborhood. I’m sure I left somebody out, and if so, I apologize. There was a lot going on and it was hard to keep up! I would also like to thank the members in attendance from the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Macon Area Transportation Study (MATS).
If you have any questions, you may call me, Lee Martin at 952-4580, my wife Susan, at 474-4437, or Lindsay Holliday at 742-8699.
Thanks again for your support.
Lee Martin
For the friends of Forest Hill Road

Our Power-Point presentation 2MB (here)



GDOT engineers have requested the following documentation by our experts:

Rick Chellman, P.E.
Chellman 3-29-08 pdf  analysis of (initial) errors in Traffic Projections.  A Suggested realignment for FHR at Wimbish/Northminster.


Chellman 4-5-08 pdf   further analysis of Moreland Altobelli's (1) Traffic projections, and (2) Design speeds, and (3) Safety claims and AASHTO guidance concerning road geometry.

Follow up of Traffic Projections Analysis with latest information of actual GDOT traffic counts along FHR.(here)


Roundabouts by M. Wallwork, P.E. :


New and historically (facts) based traffic projections now place traffic counts well under the GDOT limits for single-lane Roundabouts.

Michael Wallwork, P.E.
 in Macon in 2006.
 Wallwork's letter (rtf document) to Bibb Commissioners explaining the desirablilty of using Roundabouts at various locations/intersections along Forest Hill Rd. (page 1 and page 2)

Walter Kulash visited Forest Hill Road in the early days of the Macon-Bibb Road Improvement Program.
Walter KulashTraffic Calming -an Overview
"Widening roads to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity,"says Walter Kulash, a traffic engineer from Orlando, Fla. -  

EA - Environmental Assessment - Errorsronmental

Stormwater Runoff
The EA incorrectly lists the FHR branch tributary of Savage Creek as intermittent, but it is a perennial stream
This stream is easily observed where it flows under a bridge/driveway at 744 Forest Hill Road - residence address. 
Several hundred feet of this stream will be heavily impacted. 
Mitigation has not been properly calculated for this constant-flowing stream.

EA - Errors

Accident Data - Safety
Letter from GDOT's Harvey Keepler admitting gross errors in the EA report of Accident Data.


Macon, Ga


  - Meeting  Announcement -
- Thursday, June 17th, 2010  at St Francis Church -

Senator Robert Brown has been kind enough to arrange a meeting with GDOT officials this Thursday evening, June 17th at 6 pm, at St. Francis Church, 432 Forest Hill Road to hear residents and friends of FHR’s concerns about the destructive design proposed for Forest Hill Road. The meeting room is downstairs and can be accessed through the front door, or around back by following the entrance driveway. We would very much appreciate it if a few Bibb-Neighbors  could attend and offer their  support for a safer, more efficient, context sensitive and cheaper design.

Our citywide neighborhood battles with bad government; including bad road design, wasteful government and poor P&Z decisions are similar and they seem to be never ending. Supporting each other’s efforts to improve our city can only offer greater rewards and a better quality of life.

Please call if you would like more information. We have included a couple of links below that will offer you some background information on how hard the neighbors and friends of Forest Hill Rod have been working on this problem.
Thank you so  much for your consideration.

 - The Forest Hill Rd Neighborhood Mediation Team:
- Carol Lystlund <>
730 Forest Hill Rd.
Macon 31210

 - Lindsay Holliday <>
744 Forest Hill Rd.
Macon 31210

- Susan Hanberry Martin <>
4831 Guerry Drive
Macon 31210

 - Dan Fischer <>
489 Ashville Drive
Macon 31210

- Alice Boyd <>
540 Forest Hill Rd
Macon 31210


Some Talking-Points (link)
Our expert engineer - Rick_Chellman_offfers some better design alternatives to Bibb County Representatives

Bibb Commissioners promise to bring Rick Chellman back to visit if the FHR project is restarted:
Bibb Commissioners-to-Chellman
But they do not.... The Bibb Commissioners lied to us all about this.

Macon Telegraph
Friday, Jun. 18, 2010
Residents get Forest Hill Road update


Years after a controversial proposal to widen Forest Hill Road first surfaced, the issues with the project haven’t gone away.

About 40 Bibb County residents gathered Thursday evening at St. Francis Episcopal Church in north Macon for a presentation about plans to widen the road
The meeting, which included officials from the Georgia Department of Transportation, was organized by state Sen. Robert Brown, D-Macon, who said he wanted to use the session to find out more information about the project. It also was an opportunity for residents to address DOT officials directly.

”(The meeting) came at the request from a couple of people in the community,” Brown said. “Personally, I need to get better informed about it.”

Susan Hanberry Martin, one of the neighborhood’s mediators representing a group opposed to the road widening, outlined the reasons why residents are upset and against the project. Residents hired several engineers to consult on the project, organizers said.

Martin said in a presentation at the church that the widening of the road would make it less safe, not more safe. She pointed out inaccuracies in traffic count estimations made by Moreland, Altobelli & Associates Inc., the firm hired by the DOT to design the project.

Because the project has been dormant for so long, Martin and fellow mediator Lindsay Holliday noted that increased traffic counts on Forest Hill Road that were estimated by the firm have not materialized. On some parts of the road, traffic has actually decreased, Martin said.

No one from Moreland, Altobelli & Associates was present at Thursday’s meeting.

Martin said mediators representing the neighborhood want to make changes to the proposed design that would be more in tune with Macon Mayor Robert Reichert’s proposed redesign for Second Street in downtown.

“That’s a wonderful project,” she said. “We need that same kind of consideration.”

She said her mediation team proposed a compromise plan during a previous mediation process that the firm refused to consider.

The widening of Forest Hill Road has been a hot-button issue for years in north Macon.

Proponents of the project have argued that the road needs to be widened to ease traffic flow.

The project was thought to be dead for a couple of years thanks in part to the recession, which caused the DOT to scrap several proposed projects around Georgia.

But in December, Reichert and Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart sent letters to the DOT expressing support for the project in its current incarnation.

DOT officials at Thursday’s meeting told residents that the road expansion would come in three phases. The first phase would expand the road to three lanes from Wimbish Road to Northside Drive. The DOT is currently acquiring rights-of-way for that process.

The second phase is a bridge culvert at Savage Creek, while the final phase calls for expanding the stretch from Wimbish Road to Vineville Avenue into four lanes.

Actual construction isn’t scheduled to begin until 2014, officials said.

Ben Buchan, a DOT engineer, listened to several of the comments and questions from people at Thursday’s meeting and answered those he could. He promised to try to find answers to other questions he couldn’t answer.

“I was aware of some of the issues (with the project), but I wasn’t aware of a lot of the issues,” he said. “I’ll certainly look at it.”

Brown also promised to pay closer attention to the project in the future.

“This was an opportunity to get better informed,” Brown said. “I will get more involved. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions.”

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334

forabettercity wrote on 06/18/2010 07:17:36 AM:

Mayor, give the Forest Hill neighborhood the same design considertion you have presented for Second Street and everyone will be happy. You can make this happen and save a huge swath of Macon from destruction. We can't afford to lose another thriving neighborhood that contributes so much to our tax base!

weeniebug wrote on 06/18/2010 11:03:10 AM:

As much as I think that it WOULD help to widen the road, I would be happy if they would just PAVE the blasted thing so that I don't keep blowing tires and having to have my front end re-aligned...the condition of that road is ridiculous!!!!

carpepm wrote on 06/18/2010 11:11:17 AM:

dodrop: Were you at the meeting? Actually, there were over seven other neighborhood organizations at the FHR meeting in support of a safer design. Mailboxes are always at the curb. Would you rather be hit getting you mail on a 35 mph road or one where the design speed is almost fifty? Instant death on the latter. Ed Corson of the Telegraph wrote an article about how dangerous it was for him to get his mail on the five-lane (middle suicide lane) on Zebulon Road. You're way behind in your road building philosophy -come on into the 21st Century with us, or is it that you have a monetary interest in this road? The intersections need to be improved and the road needs resurfacing. Problem solved. Simple, safe, cheap, and kind to the residents and the taxpayers of this community.

kat wrote on 06/18/2010 01:25:26 PM:

Redo the traffic counts and realize that the road is a relic from when North Macon residents were willing to go to Macon Mall. Some people do go from West Macon to downtown but most traffic is going from Vineville to Tom Hill. That won't last long because the thugs are creeping into Tom Hill and a good hunk of the Vineville area is near gangland. Yes it needs fixing but how much?

Sammie13 wrote on 06/18/2010 04:48:02 PM:

Just leave this road alone. I drive it everyday, and traffic does seem to be down from years before. Also, the mall is dead, & that was the primary reason for widening it years ago! I think we need to keep some itegrity in the few neighborhoods around Macon that hasn't lost it. Re-surfacing and perhaps a turn lane at Ridge is all Forest Hill Road needs.

eleven45547 wrote on 06/18/2010 06:17:34 PM:

Yo ddubyuh, Where you stay? We will come over and six lane the road in fron of your house, for no reason. Just for PROGRESS. My seat.

Lazybones11955 wrote on 06/18/2010 10:11:27 PM:

I agree with Sammie that Forest Hill does not need the things they want to do to it. It does, however, desperately need repaving, but I think the powers that be have decided to punish the people who are opposed to it by just letting it fall into to disrepair. It certainly needed repaving much worse than Riverside did when they just repaved it. Recounting the traffic counts would most like prove that Forest Hill just doesn't sustain the amount of traffic it did, when it was last evaluated.

A BIG Thank-you to St Francis Church for being a Good Neighbor!


The 1994  "Road Improvement Program"  SPLOST - grossly mis-mannaged - threatens to destroy the Forest Hill Neighborhood.
Vote "No More" SPLOST (here)

- CAUTION Macon -

Forest Hill Road