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Posted: April 6, 2011 12:00 a.m.

City railroad crossings to be paved

 Covington will finally begin paving some of the unused Norfolk Southern railroad crossings this month.

The Covington City Council unanimously approved the low bid of $57,015 from Conyers-based Key Curbing and Paving Monday night to pave 15 crossings in the city limits. The bid also includes the paving of Jernigan Way, a short street connecting Lakeview and Spillers drives. Paving is expected to begin within two weeks and will take up to 45 days to complete.

Once the crossings are paved, the stop signs will be removed and replaced with "Tracks Out of Service" signs, City Manager Steve Horton said. This will require separate council approval.

There are eight additional railroad crossings in the city but they will be paved later when those roads are paved as part of the city's regular road paving schedule.

The Eagle Drive/Covington ByPass Road crossing is actually on the county's portion of the road, and county Chairman Kathy Morgan has not agreed to reimburse the city the $7,821 for the paving work, said Covington Assistant Transportation Manager Terry Savage.

Savage said the city needs to pave the crossing so that it can complete a road swap with the Georgia Department of Transportation. The city has been negotiating with the state for years to swap control of the Covington ByPass Road and the current Ga. Highway 36.

Once the swap is complete, the Bypass will become a state route, and truck traffic will no longer run past the square. In addition, Covington will no longer need to seek state permission in order to interrupt traffic for events or filming on the square.

In other city news, the council unanimously approved a request by Police Chief Stacey Cotton to seek bids potentially to purchase eight police vehicles.

Four of the vehicles would be marked patrol vehicles. One will replace a previously wrecked car, and three will be used by the additional officers who are being placed in the field in the investigative and patrol divisions.

The additional four vehicles would be SUVs that serve as mobile command posts in case of emergencies or other field missions. The SUVs would be also be used by Chief Cotton and his three captains on a daily basis.

"The use of large SUVs is necessary due to the amount of equipment needed to be carried to properly construct and maintain a command post," Cotton said in a memo to the city manager. "Most police agencies purchase large and expensive bus-type vehicles to serve this purpose. The approach I suggest makes better sense than maintaining a large command post vehicle that is only used on occasion."

All vehicles would be purchased using seized drug funds. Mayor Kim Carter questioned whether the vehicles were needed and asked about fuel efficiency. Cotton said the gas mileage on the SUVs was not that bad and said the mobile command posts would be regularly used.

The council also gave its consensus to have city officials prepare a resolution to change the name of Covington Municipal Airport to be Atlanta Covington Municipal Airport.

The name change would be solely for marketing purposes to tie the Covington airport to Atlanta for out-of-town pilots, said Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello. When pilots search for airports in the Atlanta area, those with Atlanta in their name are listed first, he said.

Two examples include Atlanta DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, and the Savannah airport, which recently changed its name to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, to draw off the tourist traffic of Hilton Head, S.C.

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