Public hearings set for U.S 19 project - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Public hearings set for U.S 19 project

September 13, 2002

Lee County--The last leg of the U.S. 19 road widening project is underway in Lee County. In the late 1980's, the Governor's Road Improvement Program, or GRIP, selected rural corridors in Georgia to become four lane highways. U.S. 19 from the Florida border to County Road 151 in Lee County is done, now 20 miles into Sumter County is next on the list.

It seems that every other vehicle passing through Smithville on U.S.19 is a tractor trailer or truck. It's a pretty busy intersection for a two lane road. Garbage truck driver Alexander McCoy has to drive on this road nearly everyday to do his job, and he is happy to hear of a plan to widen the road. McCoy says, "The guys on the back, if we are on one lane sometimes have to cross the road sometimes traffic real bad, can have a tendency to get hit by a car."

But, safety is just one reason why this road is on the list to be widened. Don Gaskins from the D.O.T says, "To help spur economic development to some of the lesser areas of the state that do not have access to four lane roads."

U.S. 19 is already a four lane road from the Florida border to this intersection in Lee County, at County road 151. The next twenty miles will be widened, right into Sumter County just past the Muckalee Creek Bridge, but it doesn't end there. Gaskins says, "We are looking toward a 4 land corridor all the way to Griffin on U.S. 19."

But, before construction starts, there are still several hurdles to cross, like an environmental study and developing a right of way plan. The project costs 18 million dollars and construction is scheduled to start Summer 2002.

The D.O.T. will hold dual public hearings on the road widening project. One will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Americus, the other at the Smithville Fire Station. They're set for September 19th from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Posted at 3:36 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com