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Gum Creek Road to be resurfaced

COVINGTON -- Newton County is expected to receive $500,000 in federal stimulus money to resurface approximately 2.5 miles of Gum Creek Road.

"It's in a very bad state of repair and we're afraid if it is not repaired, it will fall apart," said County Engineer Kevin Walter.

The resurfacing will take place between Ga. Highway 81 north of Oxford and Ellis Road to the northwest. The county will be soliciting bids from contractors during the next two months and the contract will be awarded in March, with work to begin later in the spring, Walter said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue is expected to approve the project, which is included in the state's amended transportation plan, by the end of January.

The project is one of several that have been submitted as substitutes for the widening of Industrial Boulevard. Originally, the county intended to use a majority of stimulus money on that project, but the state nixed those plans because, "It's classified as a local road and federal money cannot be used on a local road," Walter said. "It has to be a collector or arterial road ... We were shocked to find out the federal government still calls it a local-only road and we're going to get that changed, but it will take a year to change that. It was our No. 1 priority, and then we had to come up with other projects to make use of the money."

In addition to the resurfacing of Gum Creek Road, substitute projects submitted by the county are a temporary traffic signal at Oak Hill Road and Ga. Highway 212 and engineering on the Almon Road corridor from Interstate 20 exit 88 west to the Rockdale County line for a potential widening from two to four lanes, both at a cost of $500,000.

Additional funds will be used for the roundabout at Turner Lake Road and Clark Street. The county has until March 10 to encumber the funds, or get the projects under contract.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners recently approved design work on the Oak Hill traffic light and is expected to approve engineering for the Gum Creek resurfacing at its meeting tonight. Chairman Kathy Morgan said if for some reason the governor does not approve the plan, work will cease on the projects, but the county must go ahead and begin preliminary work in order to meet the federal deadline.