Portion of Jeffersonville Road to be named for Sen. David Lucas


Liz Fabian

The Sen. David E. Lucas Sr. Way will stretch about two miles from Emery Highway to U.S. 80.

When David Lucas was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, the 24-year-old blazed a historic trail to the capitol as an unapologetic motorcycle rider.

In spite of his youth, Lucas told The Telegraph in 1974, he was not about to don a conservative image, change his style or park his 750 Honda motorcycle.

“I’ll probably wear a ‘Super Fly’ suit my first day in the legislature,” the state representative-elect jokingly told the newspaper.

Nearly a half-century of service later, the Macon-Bibb County Commission voted to recognize his achievements by naming a portion of Jeffersonville Road as the “Senator David E. Lucas Sr. Way.”

Lucas was one of the youngest representatives in the state at the time and he and Billy Randall became Macon’s first African American representatives since Reconstruction.

Under the wing of the sharp legal mind of the late Rep. Denmark Groover, Lucas learned who to deal with at the State Capitol and who to leave alone, said his wife, Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, as her colleagues prepared to vote on the ordinance in committee last month.

She thought it fitting, since her husband who sits on the transportation and appropriations committees has worked for years to secure multi-million dollar projects from the Georgia Department of Transportation – including $600 million for the interchange under construction.

Last year, some commissioners had hoped to name the Interstate 75 interchange for Lucas but discovered the juncture with Interstate 16 was already designated for Maj. Bobby Jones, a physician killed in the Vietnam War and paid tribute to others who were missing in action or prisoners of war. GDOT also has a policy against naming interstates for politicians still in office, Com. Lucas said.

Sen. David E. Lucas Sr. Way will end at U.S. 80 and begin near the entrance to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Park, including Cross Keys and the railroad trestle. (Liz Fabian)

Because Sen. Lucas also has pushed for the current rebuilding of Jeffersonville Road between Emery Highway and U.S. 80, Mayor pro tem Al Tillman and Commissioner Larry Schlesinger thought it would be appropriate to designate that roughly two-mile stretch in Lucas’ honor.

“I remember when Sen. Lucas came to the commission and basically read us the riot act about Jeffersonville Road,” Schlesinger said. “Since then, GDOT has gotten on the project and what we’re going to have will be a blessing to this community.”

Tillman explained the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 75 that connects Pleasant Hill was named for Lucas’ father by the state legislature in 1974. Then Rep. Frank Horne sponsored the measure that honored the elder Lucas’ work as a football, basketball and track coach at Ballard-Hudson High School, relocation officer for an urban renewal project and interviewer for the Georgia Department of Labor.

Then Rep. Lucas helped secure the $750K needed for that bridge.

Tillman spoke of admiring Lucas from afar after returning from Tillman’s military service and beginning work as a promoter, like Lucas. He later hoped to one day learn the ropes of politics from him.

At their first meeting, Lucas asked where Tillman was from and was surprised to learn he grew up in Unionville.

“I thought you were from Warner Robins or someplace,” Lucas said and puffed on his cigar and walked off, leaving Tillman wanting more conversation.

It was only about 18 months ago that the two leaders had a chance for a real “Come to Jesus” talk, Tillman said.

Lucas told him: “Learn son. Learn how to count your votes… even if things don’t always go your way, you’ve got to build relationships.”

“We have not always politically gotten along but he’s been consistent with me and sharing the information and being so knowledgeable,” Tillman said before Tuesday’s unanimous vote for approval of the dedication.

Commissioner Valerie Wynn said Lucas deserved the honor “because that’s an area he has done a lot of work in and is very effective.”

Wynn also pointed out that the road is not being renamed but designated in his name so that folks and businesses won’t have to change addresses.

Outgoing Commissioner Joe Allen encouraged his colleagues to push for a future extension of the honor to include the federal and state highway portion of Jeffersonville Road to the end of the county.

“You have to give kudos for what he’s done. He does a good job,” Allen said.

Commissioner Lucas reminisced about meeting her future husband at a Christmas parade and taking “two or three glances” at the “very handsome man.”

After 44 years of marriage, they now joke about which one has put up with the most from the other, she said.

“If somebody says let’s go hunting or let’s go fishing or let’s go quail hunting or let’s go shoot turkeys or let’s go for wild boar or whatever, he’s right there,” she said.

The commissioner was pleased to report her husband was out of the hospital after his recent bout with COVID-19 and an allergic reaction to medicine. The couple is both recovering from the coronavirus and warns everyone to keep their guard up during the holidays.

She said the honor is an appropriate show of respect for the difficult work he’s done.

“David Lucas undertakes things that other folks are scared to tackle and you will never know of all the things he has undertaken for this community.”

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