County solicits bids for Crowell Road/Ga. 81 improvements

COVINGTON — If all goes according to schedule, work on what is often dubbed “the worst intersection in the county” should begin in about two months.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a request by the transportation department to solicit bids for improvements to the intersection at Ga. Highway 81 and Crowell Road in Porterdale.

“This is another milestone in what I consider to be the worst intersection in the county,” said Commission Chairman Keith Ellis. “Let’s get this milestone under way.”

Assistant County Manager Tom Garrett told commissioners that the estimated construction cost is between $1.6 million and $1.8 million and will be paid for using 2005 SPLOST funds. The city of Porterdale has also agreed to allocate $300,000 toward the project that will include adding turn lanes and installing a traffic signal.

The intersection is currently a four-way stop that commonly results in heavy traffic congestion, particularly in the mornings and afternoons during the school year.

When the Georgia Department of Transportation gave approval this spring to move forward on the project, Ellis said at the time, “Out of all those projects on the shelves, this is most important. We started pushing to get it in front of the DOT again and had the engineering firm take another look at the proposed plans. People go miles out of the way to avoid this intersection, so this is a monumental day in Newton County.”

Garrett said on Tuesday that he expects bids to be received within the next five to six weeks and construction can begin once a bidder is approved.

In other news, a new bridge will soon be built on Sewell Road at Little River. County commissioners approved awarding Conyers-based Streamline Fabrication LLC the bid to construct a steel bridge in place of the wooden bridge currently in place.

The company bid to do the work for $32,593, which was the lowest bid of those submitted by American Field Maintenance in Covington and Hopi Contracting, also from Covington.

Ellis said this is one of the few remaining wooden bridges in the county.

Commissioner John Douglas said the project is important because the bridge is so rickety that many county residents have to drive into Morgan County in order to avoid driving over it.