Each Monday this month, The State newspaper will take a closer look at some of the high-profile road projects on Richland Countys construction list if voters approve an additional penny-on-the-dollar sales tax Nov. 6.
Find the countys list of proposed projects for roads, buses, sidewalks, bike paths and greenways at thestate.com/election.
The project: Shop Road Extension
Boosters say extending Shop Road into landlocked acreage south of town would lay the groundwork for new industry and relieve traffic now forced onto Garners Ferry Road.
At $71.8 million, the proposed Shop Road Extension is far and away the most expensive single project on the sales-tax list.
Its one of three new roads in the package. The other two would open land along Columbias riverfront.
The precise route into Lower Richland has not been selected.
But the 4.25-mile road is envisioned as a four lane with a wide median and six-foot, paved shoulders.
It would run in an L from Pineview Road to Garners Ferry Road where it intersects with Trotter Road.
That route could connect with Air Base Road, too, leading south to Eastover.
The Shop Road Extension would require a bridge over Reeder Point Branch as well as two railroad crossings.
Map: The starting and ending points for the proposed Shop Road Extension
View Shop Road extension in a larger map
Why its needed
The Shop Road Extension would open thousands of acres of undeveloped property to business development.
Right now, there are no roads into the property.
But the area is attractive for development, because it has access to I-77, a rail line, water and sewer service, and a heavy electrical infrastructure, said Mark Simmons, who advises industrial clients on site selection at Parker Poe Consulting.
Right off the bat, the Shop Road Extension would provide access to a 200-acre tract in the woods off Pineview Road the county bought for a farmers market that didnt pan out.
This is critical to market that property, to have suitable access to it, said Nelson Lindsay, the countys economic development director.
Small- or medium-sized manufacturers that employ 200 to 300 people or more would cluster along a rail line near the proposed Shop Road Extension, railroad tracks that would bring materials in and move finished products out, said Simmons, who has no connection to the property. Rails becoming much more popular, especially moving heavy goods.
New businesses would join others now in the area, including American Italian Pasta Co. among the largest U.S. pasta producers McEntire Produce and Mars Petcare.
An equally important effect would be to relieve traffic on Garners Ferry Road, political leaders say.
Norman Jackson, a highway planner who lives in southeast Columbia and sits on Richland County Council, said people working downtown need an alternative to Garners Ferry Road.
Shop Road would provide a straight shot from downtown.
Additionally, Jackson said, the county needs to prepare for more than 3,000 new homes envisioned for new subdivisions surrounding Lower Richland High School and for the expansion of the McEntire Joint National Guard Base.
Commuters, who would have more options.
Richland County and Columbia, which would become more competitive in drawing businesses and jobs
In terms of job creation, I consider Shop Road to be the No. 1 project on that list, said Lee Bussell, a PR executive whos chairman of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
Thats not a cheap project because youve got to acquire the property, but its a project that has transformational impact.