Anyone interested in the planned widening of Highway 144 will want to mark Feb. 20 on the calendar.
That’s when the Georgia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the environmental impact of the project, which is expected to begin in March as the DOT starts the process of acquiring right of way along the roughly 5-mile stretch from Timber Trail to Belfast River Road.
While there will be no formal presentation at the hearing, which is from 4-7 p.m. at the Bryan County Administrative Complex in South Bryan, DOT representatives will be available with information to answer questions and get feedback.
And it is feedback the DOT is looking for, according to spokeswoman Jill Nagel.
“We want the public’s input,” Nagel said. “We want to know what they think about the design, what their concerns are — that’s why we’re putting it out there. This is their community … We hope a lot of people attend and tell us what they think.”
Residents who can’t attend the hearing will be able to view plans and other information surrounding the project for 15 days after the public hearing at the regional DOT office in Savannah, online or at the Richmond Hill Public Library.
All who are interested in weighing in can mail comments to the DOT’s state environmental administrator by March 3, but those who want to be heard need to go on record in order for their views to matter, Nagel said.
“We need it in writing,” she said, noting the DOT will have someone at the meeting to take statements. “That way the DOT engineers in Atlanta will have it on record. If it’s written down, it’s on record.”
As for the project’s environmental impact, that’s a broad definition and includes the widening’s impact on resources, people — the complete environment, Nagel said.
Residents can send comments on the widening to Glenn Bowman P.E., State Environmental Administrator, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 West Peachtree St. NW 16th Floor, Atlanta, Ga. 30308.
Read more in the Feb. 8 edition of the News.