Trails project moving forward
Construction to start in 2009

COVINGTON - The county's special projects coordinator, Cheryl Delk, gave the Board of Commissioners an update on the status of several ongoing projects Tuesday night, including progress on the multi-use, countywide trail system.

Construction on two sections of the trail - a 3-mile trail running from the Newton County Library to Eastside High School and a 4.5-mile trail from Turkey Creek to the Yellow River - is expected to get under way in early 2009, Delk said.

The county has $959,192 in funds available for the library to Eastside High trail: $767,354 in federal funds, $95,919 in county funds and $95,919 in city funds.

The trail will include a pedestrian tunnel at the Covington Bypass and U.S. Highway 278.

The county is paying design consultants Street Smarts out of Duluth $167,900 for design work on the project, of which $128,091 has been spent so far.

The Turkey Creek/Yellow River Trail will run 4.5 miles from Turner Lake to Turkey Creek, on to the Yellow River, providing access to Newton High School, and end at the Porterdale Depot. It will include two pedestrian bridges crossing the Yellow River.

The county has more than $1.5 million available for the project: $1.2 million in federal funds, plus $374,500 in county and city matching funds.

The county has also been awarded $500,000 for right-of-way acquisition associated with the project, but has not yet been assigned a project manager with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The county is submitting a grant/low interest loan request to the state Land Conservation Partnership for purchase of greenspace adjacent to Newton High School related to the trail and pedestrian bridge over the Yellow River.

The county is paying Street Smarts $242,418 for design work, with $183,279 of that spent already.

The total project cost for the trails is not known, but is increasing with time, Delk said.

Congressman Jim Marshall, D-Georgia, is attempting to secure $2.5 million in additional funding, which would be enough to complete both projects, she said.

Because the trails are being built in part with federal money, permitting, review and approval of the projects must come from the DOT, which can be a lengthy process, Delk said.

"Everything that is required for a road is required for a trail," she said.

In other news, design and architectural plans for the District 4 Community Center at Laseter and Puckett streets is completed. The site plan, soil erosion and sediment control plan and landscape and tree preservation plan will be submitted to the city of Covington for review by Monday. Construction is expected to begin by late September, with the project completed in April 2009, Delk said.

Also, progress on the rehabilitation of the historic jail on Stallings Street and conversion of the jail into a history museum is continuing.

Paint removal will begin Aug. 27, with architectural plans to be completed by Sept. 17. Following plan review by the city of Covington, the construction contract will be awarded. The project is expected to be completed in October 2009.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.