News From Rabun Chapter

For immediate release, July 9, 2005

The five-member Rabun Board of Commissioners Thursday declared its unanimous opposition to any proposed Interstate highway coming through the county.
“We are unanimously with you,” commission chairman Eston E. Melton Jr. told a standing-room-only crowd at the courthouse that evening. “We are to a person opposed to this Interstate.”

The Stop I-3 Rabun chapter had urged county residents to let the commissioners know of the broad and growing opposition to Interstate 3, as proponents are calling it, at a regularly scheduled “Town Hall Meeting” sponsored by the board that Thursday, July 7. The new Interstate would run from Savannah to Knoxville, inevitably carving through the mountains of Southern Appalachia.

More than 170 county residents, including a representative swath of both working people and retirees, newcomers and native mountaineers, stood up to be counted in opposition to the ruinous road proposal. They then gave the board a tumultuous standing ovation after chairman Melton unexpectedly announced the board’s position.

While mindful of the uphill battle the Interstate presents, Melton said “we are going to be diligent and resourceful in resisting and trying to stop this project.” He also announced that he will personally lobby the Georgia congressmen sponsoring the Interstate, seek to enlist the support of neighboring county commissioners in his effort and consider a formal resolution of opposition by the board, among other possible moves.

A majority of north Georgia residents, as well as residents of neighboring states, view any such Interstate as detrimental to a way of life, damaging to the regional natural resources and likely to transplant Atlanta’s Interstate sprawl and gridlock to the mountains if it is built.

About eight speakers addressed the Rabun board, all of them opposed to the proposal. Lucy Ezzard Bartlett, a spokeswoman for the STOP I-3 Rabun Chapter, noted that many Rabun residents “are horrified” that a study for such an Interstate “is even being considered.”
She cited cost, environmental and safety concerns, in particular.

“With heavy truck traffic in the heavy fog that exists almost nightly, the crash of truck carrying hazardous materials would be a regular occurrence. Of particular concern would be trucks with nuclear waste traveling at night on this highway.”