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City to clear utilities for Ga. 142 widening
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In order for a state road-widening project to move forward, the Covington City Council approved the removal of utilities in the path of the widening at a cost of $2.8 million at their Monday meeting.

The Georgia Department of Transportation required the city to sign a "no cost" letter on the removal of the utilities which occupy right-of-way needed for the widening of Ga. Highway 142 from U.S. Highway 278 to County Road 72. The project is set to be let out for bidding in February 2009.

The relocation of the utilities was budgeted for the 2009 budget, but the estimated cost fell short by $969,000 due to a wait for construction drawings until a few months ago. As a result, if the project develops on time in 2009, the city will be in the 2010 budget cycle before all of the budgeted 2009 funds are spent.

City Clerk John Grotheer said funding for the relocation of associated utilities will come from the city's Water and Sewer Account.

It will cost an estimated $1.6 million to install a new sanitary sewer line and $673,000 to upgrade a 4-inch water main to a 6-inch water main. Power will be upgraded and relocated at a cost of $501,000. Engineering costs for the relocation of utilities is estimated to cost $40,000.

In other city council news:

-- The city council approved an agreement with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia for supplemental electric power in 2009. Bill Meecham, utility director for the city, said the city would likely be in need of 10 to 11 megawatts of supplemental power next year. How much exactly is needed will depend on the number of new houses and new businesses that are occupied Meecham said. Based on energy commodities for next year, Meecham estimated that the supplemental power would cost somewhere between $75 and $90 per megawatt hour.

-- A disaster recovery plan enabling city operations to be up and running as soon as possible after a major disaster was approved by the council. The computer program approved would, as long as an Internet connection is available, allow the city to operate in a virtual environment until damaged buildings and hardware have been replaced. Two bids were received for the disaster recovery plan. The city council approved a $96,240 bid from VeriStor, though it was not the low bidder. The low bid came from CDW-G and was $94,808. Bobby Johnson, system information manager, said the decision was made to go with VeriStor because it would be much less expensive to upgrade the system in the future than with the low bidder. The city also purchased more initial storage capacity upfront with VeriStor, he said.