Oxford to build North Leesburg Bypass for $8.2 million

Bob Alexander, Lee County director of planning and engineering, says the Leesburg bypass should reduce traffic congestion in town. (File photo)

Bob Alexander, Lee County director of planning and engineering, says the Leesburg bypass should reduce traffic congestion in town. (File photo)

LEESBURG — Oxford Construction Co. of Albany has been awarded an $8.2 million contract to construct the North Leesburg Bypass, a project that Leesburg City Manager Bob Alexander believes will make trips to Lee County’s schools quicker and safer.

Oxford has two years to complete the road, which will start just north of Leesburg schools on State Route 195, connect to Old Smithville Road and then continues westward with a bridge over the railroad tracks and U.S. Highway 19 before looping back to U.S. 19.

“Once the bypass is complete, it will further disperse the school traffic in the downtown area,” Alexander told Leesburg City Council members Tuesday night. “It should reduce some of the congestion we now have. I believe it will be much safer for the school buses. … Most of them will use the bridge over the railroad tracks and U.S. 19.”

Alexander said Oxford has until Dec. 31, 2015, to complete the work.

Bill Cooper, an area engineer with Georgia Department of Transportation, said no specific timetable has been announced in terms of starting construction. Thework schedule will be discussed during a pre-construction conference with the contractor, Cooper said.

The construction will be completely financed with state and federal funds, Alexander said.

In other business Tuesday night, City Council members reviewed plans to seek funding for water system improvements in much of the city, particularly Starksville Road, Old Smithville Road, Second Street and U.S. 19.

“This is a step in the right direction to improve our infrastructure,” Alexander said. “We’ll be replacing old water lines that have deteriorated to the point that something needs to be done. We’ll have the PVC pipe instead of the old cement-based pipes.”

The work will cost $663,025, involving a combination of local and state dollars. The work can be done without an increase in water bills, officials said.

In other action, the Council:

— Agreed to accept a low bid of $22,230 from Prince Chevrolet for a new vehicle for the Leesburg Police Department. Chief Charles Moore said the vehicle is a 2014 Chevrolet Impala Limited police cruiser.

— Renewed all existing alcohol licenses for 2014. Moore informed council members that he directed an undercover effort late in 2013 during which underage customers were sent to establishments with alcohol licenses in the city attempting to purchase beer. None of the underage people were able to make a purchase, Moore said.

— Agreed to end the practice of council members serving on standing committees. Previously those council members would make monthly reports to the full council. Now, Alexander, as Leesburg’s first city manager, will make those reports.

— Appointed Bob Wilson as mayor pro-tem. He replaces Debra Long. Changes in that position occur every two years.