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Median issues on U.S. 278 resolved
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The state has agreed to leave open the option of turning left from U.S. Highway 278 onto Hazelbrand Road.

City Manager Steve Horton said a state transportation official confirmed that the state would try to honor area business owner's request to not block left turn onto Hazelbrand. State District Area Engineer Jimmy Smith said Friday that he had a tentative agreement with the chief engineer to allow the change.

Business owners along Hazelbrand Road were concerned by the state's plans to place a concrete median along U.S. Highway 278 from Ga. Highway 142 past Hazelbrand. The median is part of the current widening project, which will see U.S. 278 increase to seven lanes at that section.

The median became an issue because area business owners were concerned a median would prevent their trucks and customers from easily accessing their businesses. In addition, public safety officials wanted to keep the turn lane open to increase their access to Walmart and the Settler's Grove neighborhood.

A left turn will not be able to be made coming out of Hazelbrand Road onto U.S. 278, because trying to cross seven lanes is too dangerous, Smith said previously.

In other city news, the city approved accepting a $500,000 state grant to build a pedestrian bridge across Interstate 20 parallel to Ga. Highway 81.

The total cost of the bridge is expected to be $950,000, so the city will seek private funding to cover the rest of the cost, said Grant Writer Randy Conner. City officials were seeking additional state grants but those fell through.

Conner said he has had conversations with Oxford College representatives, who have expressed interest in better connecting downtown Covington to the college.

The city will be able to use the grant during the next 30 months. If at which time it doesn't find additional funding, it can choose to give back the grant money. The council approved the grant by a 4-2 vote, with councilmen Keith Dalton and Chris Smith opposing because additional funding was not secured. Smith also asked if it was worth Conner's time to solicit private funding.

The $500,000 grant does require the city to have a $100,000 match, but that could be covered by private funding.

The current sidewalks across Interstate 20 have low railings and are not considered safe for pedestrians.