Council to pursue pedestrian bridge

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The Covington City Council will pursue grants to construct a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 20 to connect north Covington and Oxford to the U.S. Highway 278 shopping district.

The council agreed Dec. 6 to apply for several grants related to the project. The bridge would run parallel to the existing Emory Street bridge that runs over I-20 and ends at Geiger Street. Funding is available from the Georgia Department of Transportation through a TE Grant for construction, expected to cost between $650,000 and $750,000, according to Grant Writer Randy Conner. A 20 percent match would be required from the city.

The matching funds are available in the form of a Livable Centers Initiative grant. However, the city would need to extend the LCI area, currently the U.S. Highway 278 corridor, to include the area bordered on the south by the CSX rail line, the north by Covington city limits, on the east by Odum Street and the west by Cedar Ridge. Extension of the LCI area would require another LCI study, and there is funding available for that from the Atlanta Regional Commission. That grant would require a match of between $5,000 and $10,000 from the city.

"The bridge would be constructed off-site and set in place by crane. This can be done in a day with limited traffic interruption in the North Covington community," Conner said in a memo to the City Council. "A small amount of additional sidewalk will be required and will be included in the project budget. This will allow for construction with the existing sidewalks along Emory Street."

In other news, the council renewed alcohol licenses for more than 20 restaurants, but two were singled out due to excessive visits from police.

The Depot Sports Bar and Grill, located on 4122 Emory St., and O-Zone Bar and Grill located at 8185 Old City Pond Road, have both "greatly exceeded the normal calls for other restaurants in Covington," according to Police Chief Stacey Cotton.

At The Depot, police have responded to 42 instances related to alcohol and drugs; 41 fights, instances of disorderly conduct, battery, assault and the like; and 31 traffic related offenses. Fights, disorderly conduct, obstruction of an officer and related matters resulted in 56 calls at O-Zone and alcohol and drug related matters resulted in 43.

"When you don't run your business like a restaurant, but run it like a bar, these are the kinds of calls you get," Cotton said. Other restaurants that are open seven days a week and serve alcohol have significantly less calls and those are primarily for security alarms sounding off, auto theft, traffic stops and lockouts, he said.

Cotton said activity surrounding the restaurants "is clearly due to a focus on alcohol sales versus maintaining of an orderly and responsible restaurant focused on food service as the primary business," as required by city charter.

He recommended the businesses be put on written notice and asked to better self-regulate and if no improvement occurs in 2011, Cotton requested the council take a closer look at the problem when they consider license renewals next year.