Commerce is the cornerstone of the economy, and moving goods along quickly and efficiently is key. Here in the “The Heart of Georgia,” the original goal of I-16 was to link I-75 with the Port of Savannah to aid in transporting commodities. Officially named the James Gillis, Sr., Memorial Highway, in honor of a longtime Georgia Highway Department director, it now also serves as a hurricane evacuation route for coastal areas. Its importance allowed the I-16/I-75 interchange in the city of Macon to be constructed in the early 1960s through the middle of the Pleasant Hill community — a move that many blame for the subsequent downfall of the neighborhood.
In addition to the blight of the Pleasant Hill area, research by the Georgia Department of Transportation shows that there were 975 accidents within the interchange over the past decade; 365 of them had injuries and one was fatal. After years of traffic jams and wrecks, the interchange is slated to be reinvented with construction beginning in the fall of 2016. Once that begins, expect a minimum of eight years of turmoil in the daily commute of thousands of locals as well as the travel of visitors and those just passing through. The expectation is that the inconvenience will pay off in the end, with vehicles moving more efficiently due to less congestion, less confusion, and less accidents. Until that goal is realized, the headaches and inconvenience are virtually limitless.
The modifications are 30 years in the making, with Pleasant Valley once again poised to be dramatically impacted. Financial concerns appear to be the reason behind the GDOT’s reneging on a promise to relocate 26 houses from one side of the interstate to the other. Instead, they will be torn down and the GDOT will focus on enhancing two existing parks, creating a new park along Middle Street and moving and rehabbing both the former home of musician Little Richard as well as the “half house.”
The plan is for I-16 traffic, I-75 traffic, and Spring Street traffic to all flow independently of each other with dedicated lanes and no merges. There is also a pedestrian bridge that will span the Ocmulgee River from the Riverwalk. Only time will tell if this massive undertaking truly reduces accidents and injuries.
If you have any questions about this topic, if you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a car accident, the Macon personal injury attorneys of the Mann Law Firm can review your case and advise you whether you have grounds to seek financial compensation. Call us today at (478) 742-3381 or submit our online form for a free case evaluation and let us help you.