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City to pave railroad crossings
Work to be completed within 30 days
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Those pesky stop signs located at railroad crossings in Covington where the train no longer runs should be taken down within the next month or so.

First, the city of Covington will have to pave over the railroad crossings. At Monday night's council meeting, the Covington City Council unanimously approved signing an agreement with the Central of Georgia Railroad Company, a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern, to pave over the 23 crossings in the city limits and remove any stop signs.

Once the tracks have been paved over, the city council will then vote to remove any or all of the 23 stop signs located at crossings. Any stop signs that are removed will have to be replaced with a "Tracks Out of Service" sign. Mayor Kim Carter said Monday that some stop signs might not be removed if they are needed for traffic calming. City Manager Steve Horton said he expected all of the work to be completed within 30 days.

Under the agreement, if Norfolk Southern ever needs to run trains on the track, the city will have to pay to remove the pavement from the tracks and replace the stop signs. The underlying land where the track runs still belongs to Norfolk Southern. The city also assumes all liability for the intersections once they have been paved.

The 23 railroad crossings that will be paved over are located on the following roads:
1. Conyers Street
2. South Mill Street
3. Thompson Avenue
4. Butler Avenue
5. Floyd Street
6. Sockwell Avenue
7. Anderson Avenue
8. North East Street
9. Lyda Sue Lane
10. Elm Street
11. Pace Street
12. State Road 81/N. Emory Street
13. Spring Street
14. Robinson Street
15. West Street
16. Clark Street
17. Old Brown Bridge Road
18. Turner Lake Road
19. Lakeview Drive
20. State Road 81/Washington Street
21. State Road 12/U.S. Highway 278
22. Piper Street
23. Eagle Drive/Covington ByPass Road

For a map of the railroad crossings, click on the attached PDF file.

In other city news, the Covington council held a joint work session with the Newton County Board of Commissioners and Newton County Industrial Development Authority Monday afternoon to discuss potential land acquisition and industrial development. All discussion took place in executive session.

Following the meeting, multiple officials said the elected bodies took a vote during executive session. This is normally not allowed under the law; however, City Attorney Ed Crudup said later that there is an exception to state law, which allows elected bodies to vote in executive session. He said the minutes of the meeting would become public once a purchase agreement was reached.

Land acquisition discussions are routinely held in executive session, because a public discussion could hinder the government body's ability to negotiate a price and allow real estate speculators to drive up the price.