County could lose road money

Photo by Michael Buckelew

Photo by Michael Buckelew

COVINGTON -- The county is in jeopardy of losing state funding for resurfacing of 14 roads, Chairman Kathy Morgan told commissioners Tuesday night.

The county was awarded nearly $600,000 through the Georgia Department of Transportation's Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant Program. The project was put out to bid by the state in February, and at a March 17 preconstruction meeting, the county was notified that the contractor, Pittman Construction, was ready to begin resurfacing in Newton County immediately, according to County Engineer Tom Garrett. Typically, resurfacing takes place in late summer.

The county is required to do the patching prior to resurfacing, but has not had a chance to do that because of weather conditions and the short notice, he said.

"Traditionally the county does its own patching, but we haven't had time to do it. We usually have several months, not several weeks," Garrett said.

"Even if we had known from day one they wanted to start in Newton County, I don't know how far we would have gotten," he added, noting there have been few days of ideal weather conditions.

If the patching is not done by the time Pittman is ready to resurface, the contractor can move on and the county will lose the funding. Morgan said a representative with the DOT acknowledged the county hasn't had much of a chance to do the work.

"They know they've put us in a difficult position here ... but we need to move quickly if we want these dollars," she said.

Commissioners approved Tuesday night a request by Morgan to seek bids for patching of portions of Dearing Street, Adams Circle and Cook Road, which Morgan said are the longest stretches of road to be resurfaced and in the worst shape. The preliminary estimate on the cost of the work is more than $500,000, which will come out of the capital improvements fund. This will free up the public works department to patch the other 11 roads in hopes they can be completed in time, Morgan said.

"There is a fixed price for the contract and the cost of petroleum is always increasing. I assume they are standing to lose money and wanting to expedite it. We're kind of in a bind trying to get it done and not lose our resurfacing," Garrett said, noting that this is likely "the only resurfacing we'll get this year."

"We're at the mercy of the DOT," he said.