Flint Hill Elementary is scheduled to open Aug. 4, but Airport Road needs several improvements before it will be able to handle approximately 1,935 vehicles per day, including dozens of buses.
The county is scrambling to get the road ready, because it didn't realize how extensive of repairs would be needed. Chairman Kathy Morgan said the county and school board did not get a traffic study done until late last year.
"The traffic study came back and said it was not safe," Morgan said. "It was more shocking than anticipated."
The Newton County Board of Commissioners approved the first phase of repairs Tuesday night, which will widen the entrance to Airport Road from Ga. Highway 142 and add a short turning lane. The $25,000 repair will be done by public works, with the $12,000 worth of materials being paid for by 2011 SPLOST funds.
The county will have to hire a deputy to direct traffic during peak school hours until the Airport Road and Ga. 142 intersection can be widened and realigned, County Engineer Tom Garrett said Tuesday. The intersection widening is expected to start later this year and be completed in early 2012 and will also be paid for by 2011 SPLOST money.
All of airport road will have to be widened and rehabbed during the 2012 summer school break so that the road will be able to withstand the constant weight of school buses.
The county will also get a second roundabout, at the intersection of U.S. Highway 278 and Ga. Highway 142 South, sometime within the next two years.
The state will pay for the construction and the county will pay for lighting and maintenance, based on an agreement approved Tuesday by The Newton County Board of Commissioners.
The county currently pays a sheriff's office deputy to direct traffic at the intersection on Sundays when the numerous churches in the area let out.
Only drivers coming from Ga. 142 have to stop at the intersection. About 12,450 cars drive on that stretch of U.S. 278 every day, and 6,790 travel on Ga. 142, according to Garrett.
The board also approved a 75-cent fee being added to the cost of prepaid wireless phone in Newton County.
The fee is part of a state law that will take effect Jan. 1. It will be collected like sales tax and distributed to 911 centers based on the population size they serve.
Mike Smith, director of the 911 center, said he did not know how much his center would receive in revenue, but said he hoped it would eventually reduce the amount of money paid by the city and county to operate the center.