July 13, 2024 8:35 am
Close this search box.

Local News

GDOT to study potential removal of Savannah’s I-16 flyover from historically Black neighborhood

Credit: Benjamin Payne/GPB News

By Benjamin Payne, GPB News

The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to conduct a feasibility study on the possible removal of the Interstate 16 flyover from the west side of downtown Savannah.

The Savannah City Council approved in December a memorandum of agreement with GDOT to conduct the $900,000 “preliminary engineering” study, with the state paying 80% and the city paying the remaining 20% through a federal grant from the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program.

The flyover crosses Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and exits onto Montgomery Street, marking the eastern terminus of I-16, which runs from Savannah to Macon.

When built in the 1960s, the state demolished many Black-owned businesses and homes on and near West Broad Street (later renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard), dealing a blow to Savannah’s African American community.

“City staff firmly believes that the removal of this flyover would be a big positive benefit, not only to the communities surrounding that flyover but to our overall traffic patterns,” said Savannah City Manager Jay Melder, adding that the flyover carries very little freight traffic.

According to notes prepared by city staff, the removal of the flyover and exit ramp is “intended to spur neighborhood revitalization and equitable redevelopment opportunities over the reclaimed 8 acres of land in downtown Savannah for affordable housing, businesses, civic spaces, and other community needs as identified through a future public engagement process.”

Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who grew up in public housing adjacent to the flyover, is a strong supporter of the flyover’s removal, writing in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, “It is a dream of mine to see that community restored.”

The upcoming study will not be the first time that GDOT will have examined the flyover’s possible removal. In 2008, the agency conducted a similar one, which found that the removal would improve vehicle and pedestrian mobility, and would help restore affected city blocks to their original form.

This story comes to Savannah Sun Times through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Georgia Supreme Court justices appear skeptical of Athens DA’s claim of open records exemption

In an upcoming ruling, Georgia’s Supreme Court will weigh in on a claim brought by Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, arguing that top prosecutors are exempt from the state’s open records laws. The case involves assertions that the trial court overlooked a constitutional provision in denying Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss an open records complaint, mirroring similar immunity arguments made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a separate case related to the 2020 presidential election interference.

Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Georgia colleges are reverting to requiring standardized test scores for all new applicants, signaling a shift from pandemic-era policies. Beginning in fall 2026, institutions including Augusta University, The University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech will mandate SAT or ACT scores, a decision unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents.

Water-hogging data centers flagged in latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ environmental watchdog report

In its annual report released on Thursday, the Georgia Water Coalition spotlighted the detrimental effects of record economic growth on the state’s waterways, particularly in the coastal region, where a surge in state-of-the-art data centers poses a significant threat to Georgia’s rivers. The report urges urgent action from public officials and residents to advocate for policies that safeguard natural resources crucial for clean drinking water and outdoor recreation, emphasizing the need for coordinated water planning to address mounting environmental pressures.