Major road projects: County OKs 3 orders

COVINGTON - County commissioners approved three task orders for major road projects Tuesday night.

First, an order in the amount of $165,260 was approved for the redesign of intersection improvements at Ga. Highway 81 and Crowell Road.

The project, which will include adding a traffic light and turn lanes, was being designed by the Georgia Department of Transportation but the work was halted earlier this year due to withdrawal of funding.

The design was mostly complete but based on data that is several years old, according to County Engineer Kevin Walter.

To move the project forward with local funding, the design documents will be reviewed by LPA Group out of Columbia, S.C. Only elements requiring corrections will be redone, Walter said.

Since much of the work has already been done, the cost will likely be less than the approved amount, according to Board of Commissioners Chairman Aaron Varner.

Former DOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl with LPA will be principal-in-charge of the design and will also assist the county with applications for new funding from state and federal sources.

The redesign will be funded through special purpose local option sales tax revenues, as will construction, which will cost an estimated $1 million, plus $375,000 for right of way acquisition.

In other news, commissioners approved a $67,840 task order for PBS&J to assist with construction management and inspection of the reconstruction and signalization of the intersection of Ga. Highways 20 and 212 and Brown Bridge Road.

PBS&J will assist in daily construction inspection of work and verify quantities used during construction to make sure the county is only billed for materials used.

The cost of construction will be split by the DOT and Newton County.

The DOT awarded the $1.03 million contract to Pittman Construction.

The project will entail moving the intersection of Ga. Highways 20 and 212 about 300 feet north of its current location. The new intersection, along with the Brown Bridge/212 intersection, will be signalized.

The project should begin in January and will take eight to 12 months to complete.

Payment to PBS&J and construction costs will be funded through SPLOST.

"This project has been long overdue," District 3 Commissioner Ester Fleming said. "This is one of our busiest intersections ... I want to commend you, Mr. Chairman, for getting this to the board."

Finally, the county approved a $148,700 task order for completion of the design for improvements to Gaither Road. Hatch Mott MacDonald will do the design work.

About a two-mile section of the dirt road will be paved and slightly realigned to make it straighter, according to Walter.

In the future, the south side of the road will be closed due to the construction of Bear Creek Reservoir, Walter said. The county started work on the project several years ago, clearing trees and partially completing the design phase.

The construction cost must still be approved by the county once design is complete. The construction is estimated to cost $1 million, Walter said.

Residents have been requesting the road be paved at least since District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing took office eight years ago, he said.

"The people on Gaither Road have been very good to us in that they have not lynched us from a tall pine," Ewing said.

The board also agreed to allow Snapping Shoals EMC and Central of Georgia EMC to proceed with moving 25 power poles for the project, at a cost of $71,124.

The design and utility relocation will be funded through SPLOST.

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