COVINGTON - The city of Covington has accepted a $594,000 Last Mile Connectivity Grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission for a pedestrian bridge that will be built across I-20. The City Council has also agreed to allocate additional local funding to the project.
The city has already obtained a $500,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation, putting total grant funds at $1,094,000.
The total estimated project cost is $1,368,600. The grants require a 20 percent match. To qualify for the Last Mile grant, which carries a minimum of $500,000 award, the city is partnering with Oxford to include a sidewalk widening project, according to the city's grant writer, Randy Conner.
With the city of Covington's portion at $80,000 for engineering and $14,800 for sidewalk improvements associated with the project, and the city of Oxford committing $50,760 for its sidewalk project, available funds were at $145,560, leaving a shortfall of $129,040 that the council agreed to fund at its Nov. 5 meeting.
Conner said Oxford College and the Emory University Board have expressed interest in assisting with funding, given that the bridge would serve the college's student population. However, the board will not make a commitment at this time, given that the final cost is not yet firm.
If an outside partner does not assist with funding, the city will have between $200,000 and $220,000 in the project, Conner said.
Councilman Keith Dalton recommended that the city attempt to include a sidewalk project on Carlton Trail, which will be part of the sidewalk network connecting to the bridge, to perhaps increase grant funding to cover the additional cost.
The bridge would run parallel to the existing bridge that spans I-20 and ends at Geiger Street. The bridge would be 16 feet wide, with 10 feet usable for pedestrian traffic. It would be pre-constructed and could be installed in a matter of hours. The posts would not be on the interstate, Conner said.
The bridge would provide a safe way for Oxford College students and residents of North Covington and Oxford to walk or bike to the U.S. Highway 278 and downtown shopping districts, he said.