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Council nods park master plan, downtown Covington traffic study firms
Also approves company to renovate railroad bridge for Cricket Frog Trail
Dried Indian Creek trestle bridge
The Dried Indian Creek Trestle Bridge is shown in this photo from 2018. - photo by Special to The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Covington City Council has chosen the companies that will create a master plan for Central Park and recommend ways to improve downtown parking and traffic.

It also voted Monday, Feb. 15, to select a company to rebuild a former wooden trestle railroad bridge near Covington City Hall for use as part of the Cricket Frog Trail.

The council approved Atlanta-based Perkins & Will at a cost of $50,028 to create a Central Park Master Plan.

Special Projects Director Randy Conner told council members the staff chose four finalists out of numerous bidders to create the plan for the 250-acre park.

Amenities proposed in a Request for Proposals included pavilions, hiking and walking trails, a mountain bike trail, skate park, playgrounds, multi-purpose fields, botanical gardens, and restrooms.

However, Conner said the plan also included establishment of stakeholder groups from throughout the city that will be interviewed up to 10 times virtually on what should be included in the park

The firm also will recommend what should be included in a public input survey planned for the city’s social media platforms. 

Conner said the company would determine what could be included in the new park and present a final cost estimate, as well as recommendations on possible financing and grant options. 

It also would complete three concept plans and present its work to the council for final approval, according to plans given to the council.

• Duluth-based Keck & Wood will do a comprehensive study of traffic patterns and parking in the downtown area and the Monticello Street corridor.

Covington City Council chose Keck & Wood’s bid of $85,240 out of nine bidders.

Keck & Wood will study the area roughly bounded by Mill Street on the east, Emory Street on the west, U.S. Highway 278 on the north and Conyers Street on the south.

The Monticello Street part would study the road’s corridor between the downtown area and the Jackson Highway/Bypass Road intersection, officials said.

It would provide a study of parking inventory, pedestrian accessibility, bicycle accessibility, sight distance evaluation and more, the firm said in its proposal.

The study also would give ideas about intersection improvements and other proposals to improve safety and traffic flow. 

Keck & Wood will give final recommendations and a comprehensive plan report to the council in July, according to a proposed schedule.

The firm also completed a 2020 study of the Pace Street corridor for the city.

• The council also voted to approve a $393,418 bid from Lewallen Construction to rebuild the Dried Indian Creek Trestle for use as a pedestrian bridge for the Cricket Frog Trail.

Conner said Lewallen was the lowest of four bids and had worked with the nonprofit Path Foundation on a bridge for another trail project in metro Atlanta.

The Path Foundation and the nonprofit Newton Trails helped the city study and fund the project.

Path provided engineering work to help city officials determine what was needed to convert the long-unused wooden railroad bridge into a pedestrian bridge over Dried Indian Creek, he said.

Newton Trails contributed $170,000 to offset the cost of the work, which is being funded by proceeds of the city’s share of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

The trestle bridge is located in an area bounded by Covington City Hall, Emory Street, U.S. Highway 278 and Pace Street. 

Conner said after the meeting the beams and supports for the 247-foot bridge are in relatively good shape because the structure was designed to carry trains loaded with cargo. 

Lewallen Construction will replace the parts in need of repair and place a 12-foot concrete surface over the 247-foot length of the bridge, Conner said.

The bridge is about 24 feet high and supported by a series of timber beams.

The nonprofit leases 15 miles of former railroad right of way in Newton County from Norfolk Southern Railroad to build the Cricket Frog Trail on the former railroad bed of the historic Central of Georgia Railroad.

Covington has budgeted $1.6 million in SPLOST funds to build the part of the trail within the city.

Also Monday, the city council approved:

• A request for an oil change business to place a dumpster on city property.

• Appointment of Monique Snow to the Covington Redevelopment Authority, and Jeffrey Johnson and Megan Hulgan to the Downtown Development Authority.