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138 underpass construction moves forward
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Traffic congestion on Ga. Highway 138 could see some major relief in the near future.

An agreement between the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Rockdale Department of Transportation will help fund a proposed project that will connect two sides of Old Covington Highway underneath the Ga. Highway 138 bridge, reconstruct the intersection of Green St. and Old Covington and widen and reconstruct all of Old Covington.

GDOT will put forth $1 million towards the proposed $4.35 million project. The rest of the funds will come from special local option sales tax money.

The new Old Covington extension will run behind the Courtyard Marriot at 1337 Old Covington Highway and connect to the portion of Old Covington that lies behind the Home Depot and Walmart.

The road strip that connects Old Covington and Dogwood Road near the County Inn Suites on the east side of Ga. Highway 138 will close as result of the extension.

The portion of Old Covington that intersects with Green St. will receive a two-way left turning center lane.

Rockdale County Transportation Director Miguel Valentin calls this project critical to unclogging the traffic jams that plauge Ga. Highway 138.

"This is a critical project for us to complete," Miguel said in an e-mail statement. "It will provide much needed congestion relief at the heavily congested (Ga. Highway) 138 (and) Dogwood Drive intersection by allowing traffic from downtown Conyers to move back and forth to the shopping area under (Ga. Highway) 138 and avoid the intersection."

The proposed project was announced at the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners work session Tuesday morning. Chair of the Board Richard Oden was more than elated to hear about the agreement between GDOT and RDOT.

"We need a clap on this one," he said. "(Ga. Highway) 138 is a nightmare when it comes to traffic. This allows us now to go up under 138, circle in behind the Home Depot and relief traffic congestion."

There isn't a set time for when construction will begin, but according to the work schedule in the agreement packet, the project is set to begin within six months of a construction notice to proceed letter being given to RDOT.

RDOT should have a construction notice to proceed letter by Sept. 15. The department will have about 18 months to complete the project.

The terms of the GDOT and RDOT agreement expire March 15, 2016.

The Rockdale County board will vote on the GDOT and RDOT agreement at their voting session on Aug. 26. The meeting starts at 10 a.m. in the Assembly Hall, 901 Main Street.