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DOT, city, county to hold joint meeting about construction project

ALBANY — The Georgia Department of Transportation, Dougherty County Commission and Albany City Commission will host a joint public forum Tuesday to answer questions about the Jefferson Street/Liberty Expressway reconstruction and resurfacing project that is expected to kick into full gear on Monday.

Clearing of land at a park-and-ride where Jefferson and Philema Road intersect has already begun.

“I’d started getting a number of calls after The Herald ran the story (Aug. 28) about the project, so I thought it was important to get as much information as available to our citizens as quickly as possible,” District 4 Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle said Thursday afternoon. “That project is going to have a tremendous impact on morning and evening traffic in that corridor. Since it is in my district and in (Ward II Albany City Commissioner) Ivey Hines’ district, I contacted him to see if he wanted to work together to have (the public hearing). He said he was in favor of it.

“I contacted (Albany-based) Oxford Construction (which was awarded the $14 million project), and they forwarded my message to DOT. Within a few hours, Kimberly Larson with DOT called me back and we started working on a date and time.”

The officials secured the downtown Government Center’s primary meeting auditorium (Room 100) for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“I talked with (County Commission Chairman) Jeff Sinyard, and he suggested having the meeting at a time convenient for people driving home from work,” Lyle said. “(County Administrator) Mr. (Richard) Crowdis confirmed the room for Tuesday afternoon, which was the first day Mr. Hines suggested.

“We got with the DOT folks, and things moved quickly. Now, we want to make sure we get the word out to as many people as possible. Yes, it’s going to impact the people who drive out Jefferson and Philema every day. But really, it’s going to impact the entire community.”

Lyle said Oxford and DOT officials assured him the project will not slow traffic to a standstill.

“There will be dust in the air, and it will be an inconvenience,” the county commissioner said. “This is going to be the biggest transportation project we’ve had in the county in years and years. But (DOT officials) assured me at least one lane of traffic north and one lane of traffic south will be open on Jefferson at all times. I think that’s been a lot of people’s main concern.

“The gentleman who owns that little strip mall just off Jefferson on Philema said his tenants are concerned that customers won’t have access to their businesses for 2 1/2 years. (DOT) assured me that would not happen.”