Work ap­proved at Crow­ell Road in­ter­sec­tion

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­news.com

Res­i­dents who have to com­mute through the clus­ter of traf­fic lights at the Al­mon Road exit where Crow­ell Road, In­ter­state 20 and the I-20 Ac­cess Road in­ter­sect know how frus­trat­ing and, of­ten, dan­ger­ous the area can be.

Plans were ap­proved to al­le­vi­ate con­ges­tion on the southern side of the exit through re­struc­tur­ing the lights and flow of traf­fic, an ini­tial plan­ning stage that New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers Chair­man Keith El­lis said will make the in­ter­sec­tion safer.

Although the board’s Sept. 16 ap­proval is an “ex­tremely early” plan­ning stage, El­lis said two traf­fic cir­cles that are sim­i­lar to clover leafs will be con­structed to di­vide traf­fic, and some traf­fic lights will be taken away. With the new plan, which will cre­ate more space be­tween lights, driv­ers will not have to go through the in­ter­sec­tion un­less they are get­ting onto the in­ter­state or cross­ing to Al­mon Road.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter sev­eral months of meet­ings with the state Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, El­lis said. The vote ap­proves “some of the ini­tial work,” sur­vey­ing and plan­ning stud­ies for en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Fed­eral fund­ing be­came avail­able for the Crow­ell Road/I-20 projects, as well as three oth­ers, as long as the county pro­vides 20 per­cent of the to­tal amount for a full re­turn. If New­ton County pro­vides $2 mil­lion, the DOT will fund $10 mil­lion for the projects.

“Over the next three years we would hope to have all those projects un­der way and be get­ting fed­eral fund­ing,” El­lis said.

The other projects in­cluded are two bridges on Brown Bridge Road – over Yel­low River and Snap­ping Shoals Creek – and a cor­ri­dor study to de­ter­mine how to al­le­vi­ate “ar­eas of con­cern for choke points” and how to cor­rect those prob­lems.

One con­cern to both board mem­bers and res­i­dents has been how to widen Brown Bridge, but that would cost $25 mil­lion to $30 mil­lion and is fi­nan­cially out of the ques­tion.

“Ap­pli­ca­tions can be done be­tween now and November and then be turned into the DOT,” El­lis said. “By do­ing these stud­ies we can find less ex­pen­sive ways to in­crease the ca­pac­ity to flow traf­fic.”

County fund­ing will come from SPLOST and not prop­erty taxes, he said.

“It’s any­one who uses that road,” Com­mis­sioner Nancy Shulz said. “It’s any­one who gets off of that road.”

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