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Newton gets $400K in DOT Quick Response money

Georgia Department of Transportation representatives presented Newton County officials with two checks, together totaling nearly $1.3 million, for road projects. Pictured are, left to right, Jimmy Smith, DOT District 2 engineer; State Reps. Pam Dickerson and Doug Holt; Commissioner Levie Maddox; Chairman Keith Ellis; Commissioner J.C. Henderson; State Transportation Board Congressional District 4 Representative Robert Brown; DOT Deputy Commissioner Todd Long; State Transportation Board Congressional District 10 Representative Jamie Boswell; Commissioner Nancy Schulz and State Sen. Rick Jeffares. (Special Photo)

Georgia Department of Transportation representatives presented Newton County officials with two checks, together totaling nearly $1.3 million, for road projects. Pictured are, left to right, Jimmy Smith, DOT District 2 engineer; State Reps. Pam Dickerson and Doug Holt; Commissioner Levie Maddox; Chairman Keith Ellis; Commissioner J.C. Henderson; State Transportation Board Congressional District 4 Representative Robert Brown; DOT Deputy Commissioner Todd Long; State Transportation Board Congressional District 10 Representative Jamie Boswell; Commissioner Nancy Schulz and State Sen. Rick Jeffares. (Special Photo)

COVINGTON — Newton County transportation got a nearly $1.3 million boost from the Georgia Department of Transportation Tuesday.

Representatives from DOT joined local and state officials at the Newton County Historic Courthouse at 5 p.m. Tuesday to present not only a check for $894,910.73 from its Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program, but also a $400,000 check that will help fund two additional road projects.

The $400,000 is through DOT’s Quick Response, funded through motor fuel taxes.

It will help complete improvements at Airport Road at Ga. Highway 142 and Alcovy Trestle Road at Ga. Highway 11.

BOC Chairman Keith Ellis emphasized his desire to build relationships with representatives from the DOT, and said Tuesday’s event is an example of that team building.

“Transportation is important to Newton County, and we want to stress that as much as we possibly can,” he said.

Quick Response funds are capped at $200,000, and the DOT handles design and bids, said DOT Deputy Commissioner Todd Long. But Newton County has offered to handle design and bids for the DOT, he said. The DOT has similar agreements with Cobb and Gwinnett counties, but will not allow every county that responsibility, he said.

“These are counties you can trust to deliver projects. Us allowing Newton County to do this is a sign we have a little trust in Newton County,” he said.

The Airport Road project entails realignment of both intersections at Ga. Highway 142, a deceleration lane eastbound and a full-length center turn lane northbound. The project will cost between $400,000 and $500,000, with the county’s portion funded by 2011 SPLOST revenues, said Transportation Director Tom Garrett. The county will coordinate with the school system to make sure the project will not impact school traffic at Flint Hill Elementary, he said, adding that the start date will likely be next spring.

The acute angle at the intersection causes motorists to slow down in order to make a hard left turn and motorists clog up traffic along the highway, he said. The hope is the improvements will move motorists who are turning out of through lanes.

On Alcovy Trestle, the intersection nearest the I-20 on-ramp will be removed and relocated 600 to 700 feet to the north, with center turn lanes and deceleration lanes added. That project will cost around $750,000, with the county’s portion funded by the 2005 SPLOST. Garrett said motorists become confused at the intersection and wind up turning onto Alcovy Trestle instead of the interstate.

Quick Response funds come from left over motor fuel tax money, according to a DOT spokeswoman. The Legislature determines and appropriates the amount of Quick Response dollars from the past year’s motor fuel tax. The money is used to fix small issues on U.S. and state routes that require no right of way and have no environmental impact and minimal utility impacts. Quick Response allocations are capped at $200,000. The DOT selects projects from observation of traffic problems and suggestions from local governments.