The Georgia Department of Transportation gave $400,000 to Newton County recently to help with two road projects long in the works.
The state gave $200,000 apiece to improve the intersection of Airport Road and Ga. Highway 142 near Flint Hill Elementary and the realignment of Alcovy Trestle Road at its intersection with Ga. Highway 11, which confuses drivers because it’s next to the westbound exit onto I-20.
GDOT’s Deputy Commissioner Todd Long said the projects were given money under the "quick response" program, which is designed for simpler road projects, such as adding turn lanes. However, Newton County’s projects are unusual.
Typically, "quick response" projects cost less than $200,000 total and are handled completely by the state in terms of project design and bidding out construction. In Newton County’s case, the $200,000 will only pay for part of the project cost for work on state highways, and the county will cover the rest of the cost, handle design and bid out the projects.
Long said the state’s flexibility shows that it trusts Newton County, because it doesn’t let every county have that flexibility.
County Transportation Director Tom Garrett said the Airport Road intersection improvement would cost around $450,000; the project will add turn lanes to the intersection to improve traffic flow for residents traveling to and from Flint Hill, the county’s largest elementary school.
The Alcovy Trestle Road realignment will cost around $750,000 and will pay for:
• The current portion of Alcovy Trestle Road, south of River Cove Road, to be removed and grassed
• River Cove Road to essentially be extended all the way to Ga. 11 to create more separation from the westbound I-20 interchange at exit 98
• Widening of Ga. 11
• A dedicated left turn onto I-20 traveling northbound on Ga. 11
• A dedicated right turn deceleration lane onto I-20 traveling southbound on Ga. 11
Garrett said the county will use SPLOST funding for both projects; 2005 SPLOST money will pay for Alcovy Trestle Road, while the Airport Road intersection was on the 2011 SPLOST.
As head of public works, County Commission Chairman Keith Ellis met with GDOT officials to seek out funding and secured it. He thanked the state for its cooperation and said the funding fulfills promises to residents to complete these two projects.
District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, who represents the area of the Airport Road intersection, said he was happy to see the intersection improved, noting a resident close to the intersection had said somebody would get killed there.
District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox represents the area of Alcovy Trestle Road and said he was pleased to see the project get more money, as it’s been on project lists since before 2005.
County commissioners said they had many more projects in need of funding, including District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz, who pointed out the investment the county was making in trying to realign and improve the exit 88, Almon Road interchange.
Ellis said he hoped to have an announcement soon on that project, which he’s been working on for months.
The Salem Road widening project, which has been scheduled and delayed for years because of its price tag – estimated at $34 million-plus, not including continuing the widening into Rockdale County – was promoted by Schulz and former Covington mayor Sam Ramsey, who is involved with Salem United Methodist Church and the annual Salem Campmeeting.
The state also presented a $894,910 check for the annual road-paving program it gives the county under the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant program.
Ellis also announced that the county has added a second engineer to the staff, hiring Chester Clegg as a civil engineer under Garrett, who was promoted to Transportation Director earlier this year.