Newton County residents who regularly drive along Alcovy Road and Ga. Highway 142 around Interstate 20, will notice something missing this afternoon. Every day for the last two and a half years those orange-and-white stripped barrels have lined the roads, slowing traffic, blocking lanes and causing delays.
But today is the state’s last day of construction and area business owners in particular are excited to see the state leave. Baymont Inn and Suites Owner Peter Mehta, whose hotel is on Alcovy Road north of I-20, said the combination of construction and the economy has caused his business to decline by 20 to 25 percent.
"I think business will improve once everything clears up. People on the highway will be able to see there is no construction. Before they didn’t want take the exit and didn’t want to stop because of the construction," Mehta said.
The $55.7 million project is scheduled to be completed by Pittman Construction Company this afternoon, said Robert Moon, Georgia Department of Transportation Assistant Area Engineer. Moon said the project was started in Jan. 2007, because of Newton County’s rapid growth and the increased traffic around I-20.
Covington Transportation Manager Billy Skinner said the work consisted of:
— widening I-20 to three lanes and adding a concrete median, between exit 92 and exit 93
— adding turn lanes, a concrete median and four traffic signals to Alcovy Road around I-20, and turning Alcovy Road north of I-20 to City Pond Road from a one-lane road to a two-lane road
— widening Ga. 142, from I-20 to south of Lockridge Boulevard, from a two-lane road to a four-lane road and adding a median.
Skinner said they also added safety lights at the Fibervision Railroad Crossing, because previously people couldn’t see the trains running at night.
Although the I-20 interchanges will be clear, Alcovy Road and Ga. 142 are going to experience more construction soon. Covington chose Pittman’s $83,401.05 bid to resurface Alcovy Road from where the state stopped its work, around Agnew Way south to U.S. Highway 278. Skinner said construction will start soon.
In addition, GDOT is going to resurface and widen the Ga. 142 and U.S. 278 intersection and surrounding area. Moon said Ga. 142, from the Wendy’s south past 278 down to the entrance of Ingles, and U.S. 278, from Mamie’s Kitchen west beyond the old Wal-Mart, will both be widened to a total of four lanes and will have medians and turning lanes added. Moon said the project is expected to be let for bid in October, and the project is expected to take up to 24 months to complete.
Although GDOT is covering all of the construction costs, Covington will have to pay a company to move the $3.5 million of utility infrastructure, water and gas pipes the city has in the area when the construction starts, Skinner said.
Finally, GDOT is also planning to let the construction project at the intersection of Spring and Salem roads for bid in September. This has been identified by county leaders as one of the most current and future high-congestion areas in the county.