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Hearing garners positive feedback

Residents turn out to share thoughts, see plans for Hwy. 144

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POSTED: February 22, 2014 10:31 a.m.
Jeff Whitten/

Bryan County Administrator Ray Pittman, left, talks with a Georgia DOT engineer at Thursday’s public hearing on the proposed widening of Highway 144. A large number of residents attended the hearing, where they were able to gather information from DOT engineers about the project, as well as provide input.

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Frank Biezenbos has driven Highway 144 just about every day for the past 19 years.
Thursday, Biezenbos drove the few miles east from his home in Strathy Hall to the County Administrative Complex to attend a public hearing on the proposed widening of 144 and give state engineers his two cents on the project.
In short, he’s for it.
“It’s going to be a good thing. It’s going to save lives,” said Biezenbos, who knows first-hand the dangers the heavily traveled road poses.
He was on his way to work one morning when he was involved in a wreck in front of Strathy Hall. He said his pickup was hit by a drunk driver.
“It totaled my truck, totaled his car,” Biezenbos said as he filled out a DOT comment sheet. “If the road had been four-lanes at that time, it would have averted that accident.”
And Biezenbos, a retired Gulfstream worker, was just one of dozens of South Bryan residents who attended Thursday’s hearing to learn what the proposed widening will mean for them.
Most seemed pleased with what they heard, officials said, about the project to widen 144 from two to four lanes along a five-mile stretch running east from Timber Trial Road to Belfast River Road.
The work is expected to cost around $18 million and take about 30 months to complete once contractors start moving dirt.
While some details seem fuzzy, the DOT says right of way is being authorized this year and will be bought in 2015. And it appears actual work could begin on the project as soon as late 2016, though officials say there could be delays.
But that seemed a minor issue Thursday.
“You’d be surprised what they like about the project,” said DOT District Engineer Karon Ivory. “I haven’t heard much negative about it at all.”
Not that everybody liked what the DOT has planned. Joe and Margaret Lawrence’s home fronts Highway 144 across the street from The Cove condos. Joe Lawrence, who is retired military, said he had three issues.
“No.1, cars end up in my yard periodically when they run off the road. So when the road is closer to the house, I don’t want them coming in through my front porch,” he said.
“Also, my septic tank field is right in front of the house, so that will have to be relocated. And also, how close in are they coming?”

Read more in the Feb. 22 edition of the News.

 

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