There were several issues that became evident in the meeting Thursday night between the Georgia Department of Transportation engineers and concerned citizens of Hahira regarding the proposed changes to Exit 29.

The new exit ramps will wipe out nearly half of the tax base of Hahira, severely restrict access to other businesses, demolish several homes, and hamper the numerous developments already in progress in the community.

And the only reason the engineers could come up with for why the exit was being treated so differently from all the others in Lowndes and Cook counties was because somehow, somewhere, someone in the state has decided that the exit is rural and not urban.

If the exit is deemed urban rather than rural, the ramps would be constructed to minimize the impact on the surrounding area and much of the planned changes would not be necessary.

However, officials could give no explanation on why the designation was made, who made it, and what criteria were used to make it, other than “exits in urban areas usually have curbs and gutters.”

The Times’ suggests that Hahira invest in a little concrete, as it was also evident at the meeting that the city will get no help from those elected to serve them. Noticeably absent were Sen. Tim Golden and Rep. Jay Shaw, who should have been there to hear the outpouring of concern and to offer assistance to those who sent them to Atlanta in the first place.

This exit, as it was presented Thursday, will cause irreparable damage to Hahira. The massive road reroutings and closings, the concrete median which will stretch down Highway 122 for more than a mile, nearly down to Main Street, the large amount of acreage being taken from landowners and developers, and the devastation to the city’s tax base, along with the obliteration of all commercially viable land at the exit, is shortsighted and indefensible.

We suggest state officials take a second look at the exit and deem it urban, and we suggest that concerned citizens go to the DOT Web site at www.dot.state.ga.us and register a complaint on line, write letters and actively campaign to save the exit.

Despite the DOT’s assertion that local leadership could help at the state level, seeing none present, it looks like the community is going to have to fight this battle on its own.

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