- I tried all the food. It was all good.
- State Rep. Allen Peake gave me a ticket to attend the event, but we agreed that I don't have to be nice to him in return. Well, I agreed. I'm not sure we actually discussed this point in any length. At any rate, thank you.
- The pay lot I wanted to park in was full. So I went to the lot where The Telegraph had a space last year. Still worked. I'm sure The Telegraph is happy to have free parking, but I didn't think it was fair not to mention that the state might want to pull our free parking.
Oh, you want actual news, quoting people and stuff? Done.
Chip Cherry, who heads the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce, said he met with new Georgia DOT Commissioner Gena Abraham Thursday and came away "real impressed."
Abraham didn't say it during the meeting, held on the annual local lobby extravaganza called Macon Day, but Cherry said it looks like the DOT has killed off the ever-shifting, ever-discussed, ever-controversial Eisenhower Extension project.
The "bridge to nowhere" in the downtown industrial district will still go, it seems, nowhere. But environmental activist and American Indian culturists can rest a little easier, since the project could have gone through areas they hold dear.
"I think they pretty much pronounced it dead. ..." Cherry said. "Just way to expensive."
The DOT is in a multi-billion funding crunch and is also looking at phasing in the work at the Interstate 75 - Interstate 16 interchange, Cherry said. Instead of spending $300 million at once, the department would address key safety issues first, then move through the rest of the project, he said.
Activists who say the interchange design is too large have been calling for that for years, though they leave out the whole "move through the rest of the project" part.
Other tid-bits from the meeting, from Cherry:
• The department is "watching the Forest Hill Road" mediation process.
• "Toll roads are in our future" in Georgia but "maybe not in Middle Georgia." Road building has just gotten too expensive to not use private construction capital, he said.
• Undiscussed at the meeting: The cross-county connector that would loop across Jones County to provide another river crossing (probably near Bass Road and I-75) and siphon traffic off Gray Highway.
• Both the Sardis Church Road interchange and work at the I-475 merge into I-75 are on schedule.
As for the broader celebration / lobbying effort that is Macon Day at the state Capitol, that was a great success, as always, Cherry said. The Cherry Blossom Festival took 1,000 cherry trees to Atlanta to give away, many of them to state legislators.
Locals took four buses, and about 130 people, to the Capitol to meet with officials. Then they wined and dined much of the Capitol with an open bar and a health sampling of local cuisine provided by Macon restaurants.
And, yes, you could get a Nu-Way there.
One of the coolest things, though, was that some 40 percent of the local folks who went were new to the tradition, Cherry said. That, he said, gave them a great chance to learn about state government and the legislative process.
Here's a Political Notebook wish that it didn't jade them. At least, not completely.