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Ga. Highway 36 repaving to begin

COVINGTON - The Georgia Department of Transportation will undertake the resurfacing of 2.7 miles of Ga. Highway 36 at the end of the month.

The project is expected to begin on July 27, according to a DOT spokeswoman, and will include the portion of the highway that runs through the Square in downtown Covington.

DOT spokeswoman Cissy McNure said the Square will likely be closed on a Saturday night and reopened Sunday mid-day.

"We are in the process of finalizing these plans for the project," she said, adding that specific dates have not been determined.

The entire project will run on Ga. 36 from west of Eagle Drive, extending to Ga. Highway 81, and on Ga. 36 South beginning at Clark Street and extending to Church Street.

Traffic will be handled mostly with flaggers and temporary side street closures.

"Side street traffic will be temporarily redirected as we progress down the road," McNure said.

The city of Covington was expected to begin lowering manholes along the route today in preparation, a process that will take about nine days, said Transportation Manager Billy Skinner.

The DOT is funding the project at $567,980.91, with the city paying for utility work at a cost of $30,810.

The project should take between two to three weeks to complete, McNure said.

The resurfacing is a precursor to a road swap between the city and DOT, according to Skinner.

Later this year, the DOT will abandon a portion of the highway running around the Square to Emory Street to the city's ownership. In exchange, the DOT will take over the portion of the Covington Bypass running from Ga. 36 north to U.S. Highway 278.

The result would be that truck traffic would be rerouted from Ga. 36 onto the Bypass and then on to U.S. 278, keeping it away from downtown.

Also, the city will have sole control to approve street closings and events downtown, without having to get permission from the DOT, Skinner said.

"We wouldn't accept the changeover because we knew they were going to do maintenance. We wouldn't accept it until they did the maintenance. We're getting it in good shape and then later on in the year we'll do the swap," he said.