City to use SPLOST for airport, roads

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

Editor's Note: This story is part of a multi-part series on projects that will be funded if SPLOST 2011 is approved by voters in the March 15 special election. The SPLOST is expected to generate $57.6 million over a six-year collection period.

COVINGTON -- The city of Covington's share of SPLOST will total nearly $7.47 million, and most will be used for transportation projects.

The city has designated $6,966,620 for road improvements. The lion's share of that -- about $5.4 million -- is intended for the paving and rehabilitation of Industrial Boulevard north and south of its intersection with U.S. Highway 278. The project will entail widening near the new Walmart, the addition of streetlights and sidewalks, and creation of a connector road to Floyd Street that would eliminate the Floyd Street/U.S. Highway 278 intersection.

City Manager Steve Horton said the Georgia Department of Transportation may partner with the city and some local funds may be needed to complete the project.

In addition, the city will apply about $433,000 to work on streets in subdivisions that were left unfinished, leaving manhole covers sticking up and creating a hazard. Another $523,000 will go toward resurfacing segments of about 20 streets and around $600,000 for widenings.

A list of specific streets could not be obtained by presstime; though there is a prioritized list, projects could change as needed. There is no requirement that officials develop a specific list of transportation projects for SPLOST, so long as the money is applied for the intended use of road improvements.

Despite the large amount of funds allocated for streets, listed as the city's top priority is $500,000 in funding for improvements at Covington Municipal Airport. The plan is to apply those funds to construction of a new terminal, said City Manager Steve Horton. Total cost for the terminal is an estimated $1.5 million. The city is applying for a $500,000 grant, and may also contribute $500,000 in local funds.

There are plans to move the main entrance of the airport to the Ga. Highway 142 side near the industry Nisshinbo.

"Without a doubt, the necessity would be that people will be housing aircraft at that end, including corporate hangar space," Horton said. "If they house their airplanes there, they've got to be shuttled back and forth to the other terminal building to do business or we've got to have a site handy for them. The plan would be to have a terminal there to meet the needs of those people. The other building would still be there, but it wouldn't be the place they would do most of their business."

The money could be used for other airport projects should the terminal not pan out, Horton said. In addition to the terminal, over the next three to five years a new apron, new entrance, taxiway and fueling system will be constructed at the airport.