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Covington puts stop to traffic issues
City council approves plan to slow down, improve flow downtown
stop signs

COVINGTON, Ga. — A phone call from a former legislator sparked the Covington City Council's approval to place various stop signs across the downtown area to improve traffic flow and safety.

Mayor Steve Horton said Thursday, Sept. 24, he got a call from former Rep. Denny Dobbs with concerns about the intersection of Floyd and East streets. While traveling through the area near J.C. Harwell Funeral Home, Dobbs said a vehicle collided with a dog running across the roadway. He thought the dog was OK, but his biggest concern was a child that appeared to step out onto the edge of the road.

Dobbs told the mayor he was leery of Floyd Street and Dearing Street. According to an email provided by Horton, Dobbs said he encouraged the city to install stop signs, four-way stops or speed bumps “because vehicles are just flying up and down Floyd Street from one end to the other, and a child or an elderly person or someone else may get run over and hurt.”

After receiving the message, Councilwoman Susie Keck voiced concerns to the mayor about other streets, including Conyers Street. 

Horton later charged City Manager Scott Andrews and Police Chief Stacey Cotton to come up with potential solutions that were presented to the council Monday, Oct. 5.

During the meeting, Cotton said the issues Dobbs and others expressed concerns about likely stem from U.S. Highway 278.

“I see people using a lot of our streets as cut-throughs (from U.S. Highway 278) because there’s no traffic control — there’s not anything that would dissuade people from using these streets to get from from point A to point B,” Cotton said.

The chief suggested a traffic study be conducted, but in the meantime, installing four-way stops at questionable intersections could help, he said. It could also keep traffic from “stacking up” at the Covington Square, Cotton said.

“We recommend using stop signs at certain intersections to … keep people from using them as cut-through streets and kind of slow and minimize traffic through there,” he said. “If you want to come (to the Square) to eat dinner, you don’t mind going through several intersections to get there, because that’s your destination. But if you’re just trying to go from point A to point B, trying to take the path of least resistance — I think we’re getting a lot of ‘least resistance.’”

Andrews said he would also like to see a traffic study conducted, but it would need to wait until next year so the cost could be factored into the budget.

“So what’s gonna happen is everyone’s going to say, well what about this intersection or this intersection. And my fear is the knee-jerk reactions — you’re doing something and creating a bigger issue,” the city manager said. “So we did speak earlier … I do think we need a comprehensive traffic study — whether that’s partnering with the county or going on our own — at some point, putting that into next year’s budget. Saying that, those are not cheap. I’d say anywhere from $80,000 to $120,000. But between now and then, the team did identify some places, a few that we want to put stop signs, and if it doesn’t work, we move it, basically.”

Andrews proposed intersections that would immediately become four-way stops to include Floyd and East, as well as Brown and Conyers. 

“Others that the city will look at for installation include Washington and Lee, Washington and Hendrick, Davis and Conyers, and Clark and Hendrick,” Andrews said. “I’m sure there’s a lot more that could fall into that category, but we’re scared that if we put six (stop signs) out all at once, we won’t feel any trickle down affects. Certainly we’re open to suggestions, but that’s what team came up (Monday).”

Keck said she would also like to see “rumble strips” placed at trail crossings, “because when I walk the trail coming across Floyd (Street), it’s scary and you just have to watch.”

After a moment of brief discussion, the council unanimously adopted a resolution to place stop signs or four-way stops at the six intersections “as identified by the city manager,” as well as rumble strips and other safety measures on Dearing Street, at the golf cart tunnel and trail street crossings throughout the city.

Andrews was also instructed to make budget considerations for a traffic study in the next budget cycle.