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Intersection upgrades under way
Improvements being made to Salem/Smith Store roads

COVINGTON - Long-awaited improvements to the intersection of Salem and Smith Store roads began this week.

A signal and turn lanes will be added and the sharp angle of Smith Store Road will be straightened, according to County Engineer Kevin Walter.

The road has been a concern to county officials for a long time due to fatal accidents that have occurred there.

Because the Georgia Department of Transportation could not act immediately on the project due to limited funding, county commissioners agreed to move forward using local funds, Walter said.

About six months into the design phase, the DOT notified the county that it had operational safety money that could be applied to the project.

"It delayed the project because federal money made the analysis much more cumbersome and time-consuming ... but we just could not turn that down," Walter said.

The state will pay for the entire construction cost of $596,746.65. The contractor is E.R. Snell Contractor Inc. out of Snellville.

The project could take up to 11 months to complete, but the contractor is aiming to be done by the end of summer, Walter said.

"We're real excited about this getting built and also excited this is being built at 100 percent cost to the state," Walter said.

Also under way is a storm drain system rehabilitation project on Mill Chase, a residential street off Mill Drive behind South Salem and Liberty Middle schools on Salem Road.

According to Walter, a 30-inch pipe running about 15 feet under the road's surface is deteriorating and rusting, and will eventually give way, resulting in the road collapsing.

"Instead of digging up the whole road and replacing the pipe, we're going to have it relined with PVC," Walter said.

The $20,000 project should be finished this week, he said.

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