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Work begins on Covington Avenue in Opp

Drivers traveling through downtown Opp over the next several months will notice road crews at work along East Covington Avenue, but businesses along the street plan to remain open during the construction.

The city received a Department of Transportation grant to improve sidewalks and infrastructure, and preliminary work has already begun.

“Right now, they’re opening up the sewer and water connections, so we can get to them to replace them,” Opp Planning Director Don Childre said. “Those old pipes were put in there back in the 1920s, and they’re in bad shape. Eventually, all the power lines and utility lines will be underground and it will make a major difference in the appearance of the downtown area.”

Childre said the final stage of the project would be to install new sidewalks and lighting.

“We’re trying to make downtown more attractive, and draw in more customers,” he said.

Tuesday, the roadwork did not appear to cause many traffic problems. The eastbound lane of East Covington Avenue was closed as contractors worked, but the westbound lane remained open. Childre said the downtown area will have proper signage and flag men to direct traffic, as construction continues over approximately the next 90 working days.

Business owners along Covington Avenue said they would remain open during the construction period.

“(The road workers) have been extremely nice and helpful with our customers,” said Rebecca Edgar, owner of Young’s Flowers and Gifts. “We have access both in our front door, and our back door, so we’re pretty lucky. It might be a little aggravation for a while, but we’re excited about how it’s going to look when the work is done.”

Childre also said the city has been communicating and cooperating with local business owners.

“We’re doing everything we can not to affect their businesses any more than we have to,” he said. “We’re trying to do the south side of Covington (eastbound lane) and try to get out of the way of those businesses as quickly as we can.”

Claudette Danley, owner of Corner Mall, said her customers should also be aware the store is still open.

“(The road workers have) provided us with little walkways and bridges out front, so the customers can come through,” she said. “As far as I know, all of the businesses along this street are going to stay open.”