New exit will cause pain - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New exit will cause pain

September 28, 2006

Hahira -- Five houses, three of them on the same road, as well as several businesses, including a Super 8 Motel, are scheduled to be demolished under the current plan by DOT to revamp an Interstate 75 interchange.

Several of the homeowners are working to save their homes and keep their families from moving.  

Three months ago, Kristie Espinoza, her husband Michael, and their two young children moved from Jacksonville, Florida, to Hahira. They were still putting the finishing touches on their new home when they heard the disturbing news. "They said the house is going to be bulldozed," said Espinoza.

Under the current plan by the Department of Transportation to revamp the Hahira interchange, land owned by Espinoza, two neighbors and several businesses will be torn down to make the interchange safer. "They're planning to move the exit ramp closer to our home, which would also mean they would have to move the service road along the interstate onto our property," says Donnie Isaacson, a concerned resident and neighbor to Espinoza.

Seven children between the ages of 11 and one month live in the three houses affected by the construction project. The families all worry about the effect this situation will have on them. "But anytime they see a truck go by they're afraid that may be the truck that's taking our house down,"  Espinoza says.

Although the families realize the need to make the interchange safer, they hope the DOT will find an alternate plan of action.  "We realize the interchange does need to be redesigned, we just think there's a better plan they could come up with that doesn't affect businesses and homes," Isaacson adds. 

"I realize there are safety issues, so I hope a better plan can be made, but I hope we're able to keep our home," Espinoza agrees.

The DOT says this is just a preliminary plan, and if community feedback does not meet their expectations, they will look at other possible routes. They say the construction project is still about four years away.  

City of Hahira officials say a meeting will be held at 6:00 tonight at Hahira Middle School for all residents. DOT officers will be present to answer any questions concerning the project.

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