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Work at highway intersection nearly complete

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Improvements to the intersection of Ga. highways 20 and 212 and Brown Bridge Road, most notably two new traffic signals, are almost complete. The county engineer said traffic congestion has decreased since the signals were activated Dec. 4.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Improvements to the intersection of Ga. highways 20 and 212 and Brown Bridge Road, most notably two new traffic signals, are almost complete. The county engineer said traffic congestion has decreased since the signals were activated Dec. 4.

COVINGTON -- Improvements to the intersection of Ga. highways 212 and 20 and Brown Bridge Road are almost complete.

Two traffic signals have been installed and running since Dec. 4, and since that time, there has been "a huge decrease" in traffic congestion, according to County Engineer Kevin Walter.

"More importantly, we haven't had any complaints," he said, adding that it can be complicated having two signals so close together, timing-wise, but, "It appears to be working well."

Considered one of the worst intersections in the county by some officials, the only traffic control devices there for decades have been two four-way stops.

"In the '30s and '40s and '50s when there was not traffic, it was fine," Walter said, noting that one elderly man who lives in the area said that in the old days, if he saw four or five cars pass by in one day that was a lot.

The intersection was designed to handle that kind of traffic flow, but times have changed, and it's now one of the busiest in the county. With the Georgia Department of Transportation putting off a permanent fix for the road, county officials decided to do a temporary improvement that involved moving the intersection of Ga. Highway 212 and 20 about 300 feet to the north to increase the distance between the intersection with Brown Bridge Road in hopes of relieving traffic congestion. The 20/212 intersection was very skewed and it was made close to a 90-degree angle for safety, Walter said. In addition, two traffic signals and turn lanes have been added.

The project is about 97 percent completed, Walter said, noting that it's a good thing the county acted when it did: The DOT's permanent solution has been delayed indefinitely.

"It may be many years before more improvements are made," he said.

Once the county took action, the DOT got on board, too, and funded part of the project. The total cost for construction was $981,000, with Newton County paying about $500,000.

"This project will not last 20 to 25 years, but it will last a good part of that ... Doing something is better than doing nothing," Walter said.