Tifton residents oppose interstate changes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tifton residents oppose interstate changes

April 20, 2006

Tifton -- A statewide plan to improve Georgia highways and interstates is driving some folks in Tifton mad. A proposal to widen an I-75 exit could leave some folks without a backyard, or even without their homes.

The DOT is currently working on plans to redesign four interchanges along I-75, and the changes are meant to improve travel through Tifton. But it doesn't appeal to everyone.

Many people who live in the Northgate Lakes subdivision don't want to see the proposal go through. They say that the plan to widen Brighton Road will decrease their property values and force some of them to relocate.

The Hester family enjoys a dip in their backyard pool on hot days, but the crisp water may be replaced by a five lane highway.

"We just feel helpless like there's nothing we can do. Because that's what they said all this will be gone," said Stephanie Hester.

The DOT has plans for a three-year project to widen Brighton Road off I-75, cutting through residents' backyards. And leaving a neighborhood ready to slam brakes on the project.

"It's going right through a residential area and disrupting families and lives," said Gail Allen.

"Them making changes it's gonna have a 55 mile and hour four-lane just right here at my door step," said Emory Murphy.

Everett Collier will lose his entire property to eminent domain, but he believes it's important to keep up with the growth of the city.

"The road is bad the way it's set up now. It has been especially since the new high school's been built, the traffic's just increased yearly. If they don't do it now they'll have to do it in the near future," said Everett Collier.

But several residents maintain that there are other options for traffic flow than through their backyards.

"Leave us a little bit of backyard. So we won't have anything left worth anything.. besides all the noise and the road we won't have any choice but to leave," said Hester.

"We couldn't hardly do without this part of our lives," said James Sheffield.

"I think the DOT, they'll listen to us. They've had a public hearing and we've done our input."

With the possibility of a main road just 30 feet from James Sheffield's back door, he and his neighbors see their investments washed down the drain.

The proposal to widen Brighton Road off of I-75 is still in the planning stages. Most feel that the disadvantages to this proposal far outweigh the advantages for their community.

The lane widening wouldn't start for three years.

DOT officials say they welcome input from people who feel they are affected. Send concerns to:

Harvey Keeper , 3993 Aviation Circle, Atlanta, GA 30336

www.dot.state.ga.us and click on Public Outreach.

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