A year in review: The I-16, I-75 interchange project

New year outlook, interchange project

Within the last week, you may have noticed construction on the I-16, I-75 interchange project has paused.

Contractors are taking their holiday break, according to Kimberly Larson with the Department of Transportation.

However, much has changed since the construction broke ground earlier this year.

Yvonne Thomas has been following the project for several months now and took a look back from where we started and what's to come.

During the last 28 weeks, we've seen major road closures, lane shifts and whole lot of orange cones.

Contractors started the mega project in the heart of Pleasant Hill, a community torn apart by the very same highway they're expanding. 

Starting in January 2017, seventeen homes came tumbling down to make room for a wider highway. “In two or three years... Pleasant Hill is going to look really different... so much... I think I'll move over here,” said Representative James Beverly.

And in April, who can forget watching the boyhood home of Little Richard take a one-mile trek around the block. “They said it couldn't be done, but it's moving, moving down Middle Street,” said resident Naomi Johnson.

The newly renovated home now sits on Craft Street and will become a new resource center in the Pleasant Hill community.

In June, speeding fines went up as the speed limit went down near the I-75, I-16 split. “It kind of almost turns this into a speed trap. And it can be tough for people that are driving through and unaware,” said driver Forreste Vaughn.

And as construction grew in Macon, so did the community's concerns.

“It's dangerous right now... and I just hope that no one gets hurt,” said resident Angelica McDowell.

Some business people criticized closing the Spring Street entrance ramp to I-16 East.

“Our customers will choose something else. Something close where they can avoid all the extra traffic,” said Karina Hernandez, manager of El Sombrero Restaurant near Spring Street.

“They had to shut that down so that crews could get in new culverts drainage and all that built where the ramp is now,” said Kimberly Larson, with the Department of Transportation.

Working close to homes near Shirley Hills made homeowners feel exposed.

“This is their job but this is our home and we have to live and rest here,” said resident Yulanda Keys.

But for now, the work will pause until January 3rd. In 2018, the Department of Transportation hopes to be one step closer to their goal.

Here's something to look forward to next year.

By Summer 2018, contractors hope to finish the mitigation project in Pleasant Hill.

That would include building 17 new homes, adding a park, green space, and lighting tail along the east side of I-75.  
 

© 2018 WMAZ-TV


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