Ga. 81/Crow­ell in­ter­sec­tion to get sig­nal in 2012

The Covington News - - Front Page - Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

Nearly two decades af­ter Por­terdale of­fi­cials first be­gan look­ing for a traf­fic so­lu­tion, the in­ter­sec­tion of Ga. High­way 81 and Crow­ell Road will fi­nally get a stop­light in 2012.

County En­gi­neer Tom Gar­rett said the county re­cently sub­mit­ted plans to the state to im­prove both the Ga. 81 and Crow­ell Road in­ter­sec­tion, a four-way stop, and the Ga. 81 and Ga. High­way 162 Con­nec­tor in­ter­sec­tion, a three-way stop.

The im­prove­ments will be made us­ing re­main­ing 2005 SPLOST money, if the Newton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers ap­prove the project.

The two in­ter­sec­tions are around 500 feet apart and both fre­quently back up dur­ing rush hours.

“This in­ter­sec­tion is crit­i­cal to our county now,” said county Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan Thurs­day. “There are a large num­ber of peo­ple ev­ery day trav­el­ling to get to work and school.”

The plans call for a stop­light at Crow­ell Road, but not at the Ga. 162 Con­nec­tor. The county even­tu­ally wants a stop­light at the Ga. 162 in­ter­sec­tion but doesn’t have enough money. How­ever, the in­ter­sec­tion will be im­proved in such a way to al­low a stop­light to be eas­ily in­stalled later, Gar­rett said Wed­nes­day.

In ad­di­tion to a stop­light, ev­ery street lead­ing up to the Ga. 81 and Crow­ell Road in­ter­sec­tion will get ded­i­cated left-turn lanes.

There will also be ded­i­cated right turn lanes onto Ga. 81 for those trav­el­ling north and south on Crow­ell Road/Cov­ing­ton By­Pass Road. Sig­nal­ized pedes­trian cross­walks will also be added at both in­ter­sec­tions in all di­rec­tions.

“It will be like night and day,” said Gar­rett.

A so­lu­tion has been de­layed be­cause the state never ded­i­cated money to the project, but Por­terdale and

Newton County fi­nally reached an agree­ment to fund every­thing lo­cally. The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion orig­i­nally ap­proved a per­mit for a sig­nal back in 2000. If the county had waited for state or fed­eral fund­ing, the project could have been de­layed an­other decade, said Mor­gan.

No fi­nal price has been given, but Mor­gan said she ex­pected the project to cost more than $3 mil­lion, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion, mov­ing util­i­ties and pur­chas­ing right-of-way to widen the roads. The county will pay its por­tion out of re­main­ing 2005 SPLOST money, while Por­terdale has com­mit­ted to con­trib­ute $ 300,000.

Pur­chas­ing rightof-way also held up the im­prove­ments, be­cause some of the land around the in­ter­sec­tion is his­toric. Gar­rett said by us­ing only lo­cal money, the county is able to avoid some of the oner­ous re­quire­ments for deal­ing with his­toric land when state when fed­eral money is in­volved.

The state will re­view the plans, and the county then hopes to be­gin pur­chas­ing right of way in the fall and be­gin con­struc­tion on the in­ter­sec­tion im­prove­ments in the spring of 2012.

Ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ously con­ducted daily traf­fic counts, 9,460 driv­ers travel Ga. 81, 8,847 travel Crow­ell Road and 5,770 travel the Ga. 162 Con­nec­tor.

The de­sign was com­pleted by LPA Group, an in­de­pen­dent engi­neer­ing con­sult­ing firm, and re­placed an orig­i­nal de­sign pre­pared by the state.

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