Cars line up on McDonough Road in Lovejoy Thursday. State officials said this week that 42 of the 50 homes planned to be demolished to widen the road will be saved afterall. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — Many of the people who were facing the loss of their homes because of a plan to widen McDonough Road will get to stay put after all, a Georgia Department of Transportation official has confirmed.
The state had planned to demolish more than four dozen homes lining the road to make room for their project, which will add two lanes of traffic, two new bridges, sidewalks and a raised median with a bike lane. Project Manager Jeremy Busby told the Clayton County Board of Commissioners the plans have been changed as the result of public input.
Not even a dozen homes will need to be demolished now to make room for the project.
“When we first started this project, we had 50 residential displacements proposed,” said Busby. “We have been able to reduce that down to eight and we’re continually trying to cut that down even further.”
The road widening is still years away from happening. Although public input is being gathered now, Busby said right-of-way acquisition won’t begin until 2016, and construction isn’t slated to get underway until 2019. The section of McDonough Road to be widened stretches from Ga. 54 to Tara Boulevard.
Busby said the state is widening the road to address safety, sight distance and congestion issues. Safety is a particular concern for the DOT, though. Busby explained the geometry of the road, which has several sharp curves on it, is “substandard for the number of cars on it now” and the roadway would therefore benefit from widening.
There have been several accidents on McDonough Road because of sight distance issues created by the curves, but Busby did not elaborate on how many accidents there had been. He said it was higher than the state’s accident average, though.
“This road is one of the most unsafe roads in Georgia at this time,” he said.
The project proved to be unpopular with residents along McDonough Road this summer, when a public input meeting was held at Lovejoy High School. Busby said 199 people attended the meeting July 11 and 107 people left comments with state officials.
Of those comments, 65 were from people opposed to the project, 29 were in support and the remainder were undecided, said Busby.
Another public input meeting is expected to be held either later this month or in early October. Busby said that while the official public comment period has ended, residents are encouraged to submit comments on the project. He said residents can call him directly at 404-631-1154 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to offer input.
“We’re always accepting comments,” said Busby. “We want all of the input we can possibly get.”