New interstate traffic patterns confound Macon drivers


Liz Fabian

The Interstate 16 West on-ramp from northbound Spring Street has closed due to construction and drivers must now turn left at the Emery Highway traffic light.

Since this story was published, the Georgia Department of Transportation has altered the traffic pattern at Interstate 16 to help ease congestion. Read the update here

An agitated driver blew her car horn continuously Tuesday morning as she waited to turn right onto Interstate 16 West at the traffic light near the Spring Street overpass in Macon.

The car in front of her had stopped at the red light where a new sign reads “no right turn on red.”

Before the Georgia Department of Transportation began work on the new interchange for interstates 16 and 75, no stop was required at all for the right turn lane which could merge with traffic coming from Emery Highway.

The woman hadn’t realized there was a shift in the traffic pattern over the weekend and right turns on red are no longer allowed.

“Oh, that’s new,” the driver said before apologizing for losing her cool.

In recent days, construction crews closed the I-16 West on-ramp not far from the entrance to the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail and boat ramp. Northbound drivers on Spring Street used to travel under the overpass and loop around the ramp to access the interstate. (The I-16 East ramp at Spring Street was closed shortly after the project began two and a half years ago.)

Liz Fabian
A new left turn lane onto Interstate 16 West at Spring Street means southbound traffic no longer can turn right on red to get onto the interstate.

To access I-16 West now, northbound traffic on Spring Street is allowed to turn left at the light near the Krispy Kreme, which previously had been prohibited.

Because those drivers will have a green arrow, those traveling in the opposite direction must wait for the light to change and cannot turn on red as previously allowed.

Lighted signs are in place to note the lane changes, but some drivers appear to have overlooked the “no right turn on red” sign overhead.

This pattern will be in effect for several months in this phase of the project, according to a GDOT news release.

Since vehicles getting onto the interstate have to wait for the light cycle, traffic is backing up and blocking the intersection at Nottingham Drive, North Avenue and Gray Highway which is causing delays.

Liz Fabian
Drivers need to be award that the new exit lanes for Interstate 75 South at Hardeman Avenue are before the current temporary exit that’s been used for months.

Motorists also need to be aware of changes to the I-75 South exit ramp at Hardeman Avenue.

This week, crews are expected to open the new lanes leading from the highway to the traffic light near Fountain Car Wash.

Last week’s heavy rains have caused some delays and workers are still loading the sound barriers that run along the exit but the new exit could open up as early as Wednesday night.

Signs are posted along the highway, but drivers need to pay attention as they round the I-75 curve coming from the I-16 split.

The new Hardeman exit comes before the temporary exit farther down the road that has been in place for several months.

If drivers miss the new exit, they will have to travel to Mercer University Drive to turn around.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected].

The new Hardeman Avenue exit on Interstate 75 South is expected to open as early as Wednesday night.