Salem Road to be repaved
Stretch between Ga. 81 and Rockdale to be resurfaced

COVINGTON - A 6-mile stretch of Salem Road between Ga. Highway 81 in Newton County and Golfview Drive in Rockdale County will be resurfaced this summer.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is funding the $1.4 million project, which will get under way Tuesday and likely will take until the end of August to complete, said DOT spokeswoman Cissy McNure.

Work will be under way from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sundays through Fridays, weather permitting.

Construction activities will be suspended July 3 through 7.

After July 7, most of the work will take place in the evening, McNure said.

Motorists can expect lane closures and delays throughout the duration of the project. Traffic will be controlled by flaggers and pilot vehicles. The DOT is urging motorists to use extra caution while driving through the work zone.

Included in the project are improvements to the intersection at Salem and Old Salem roads, including the addition of a turn lane and a traffic signal with arrows.

Currently, motorists traveling northbound on Salem attempting to make a left-hand turn cause a traffic backlog, said Newton County Engineer Kevin Walter.

A few years ago, motorists resorted to using deceleration lanes as an additional lane of traffic, but because of resulting accidents, the DOT put up small concrete barriers, called turtles, in the roadway to block the deceleration lanes.

After several years of complaints from residents, the DOT has agreed to convert the deceleration lanes into a solid through lane and install a new traffic signal with arrows.

The county was responsible for purchasing easements needed for the project and extending drainage.

"The best part of this for us is that 80 percent of the work is being done by the Georgia DOT," Walter said.

In related news, the DOT is expected to sign off on environmental studies for the widening of Salem Road in spring of 2009, according to McNure.

Right of way acquisition, at an estimated cost of $30.4 million, is scheduled for 2009. Construction is slated to begin in 2011, at a cost of $13.02 million.

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