Penny sales tax

Richland County’s penny sales tax proposal: $148 million in projects aren’t clear yet

Most urgent projects will take priority, officials say; it’s not clear which paving, resurfacing jobs will be done

dhinshaw@thestate.comOctober 22, 2012 

A penny sales-tax referendum could help neighborhood improvements, dirt roads and road resurfacing. Dirt roads are a problem for some residents, like Joyce Delk, in the Eastover area. Here, Delk stands near an area that flooded so badly that she and her family were stranded and couldn't get to Hwy 378.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

  • Three numbers to consider $650,000 The cost to pave one mile of road 236 Miles of dirt roads in Richland County 100 Miles of new subdivision roads added in the past decade SOURCE: Richland County

Each Monday this month, The State newspaper will take a closer look at some of the high-profile road projects on Richland County’s construction list if voters approve an additional penny-on-the-dollar sales tax Nov. 6.

The projects: Neighborhood transportation improvements, paving dirt roads and resurfacing streets.

The transportation sales tax plan set aside $148 million in these three categories:

• $63 million to make transportation improvements in six neighborhoods

• $45 million to pave rural dirt roads

• $40 million to resurface streets

But the county has identified more projects than money, so voters can’t be sure which projects will be done.

$63 million for neighborhood beautification

Since 2005, the county has completed neighborhood studies in six communities, working with residents to identify street projects that would bolster their neighborhoods.

Many are street beautification projects that might include installing planted medians, adding curbs and gutters or sidewalks, upgrading traffic-control signals, improving drainage or adding road signs, said county planning director Tracy Hegler. Most would be done along major corridors within the neighborhoods.

Altogether, the county lists $92 million in projects, meaning $29 million would have to be cut.

“All the needs won’t be funded,” Hegler said.

The affected neighborhoods are:

• Broad River Heights and Riverview Terrace, near River Drive, with $1.6 million in projects;

Candlewood, off North Brickyard and Two Notch roads, with $4 million in projects;

• Crane Creek, between Monticello and Fairfield roads, with $21 million in projects;

• Lower Richland Boulevard at Garners Ferry Road, $9 million;

• Trenholm Acres and Newcastle, at Fontaine and Two Notch roads, with $9 million in projects;

• And Woodfield Park, off Decker Boulevard, with $20 million in projects.

A county-sponsored study of the Broad River Road Corridor added $28.3 million in projects to the potential work list.

$45 million for dirt roads and resurfacing

The sales tax plan sets aside $45 million to pave dirt roads – five times more than was included in the 2010 referendum – and another $40 million for resurfacing.

Based on an estimated cost of $650,000 per mile, the county would be able to address 69 miles of its 236 miles of dirt roads.

Since resurfacing is less than half the cost, the county would be able to address 133 miles of its 522 paved streets.

But officials can’t say yet which roads would be addressed. The public works department is updating priority lists, prepared in 2002, with current data designed to ensure roads with the greatest needs are addressed first.

The information won’t be available for about six months.

The staff would make its recommendations to a new citizen watchdog committee, which would then report to Richland County Council. The council would maintain authority on which projects were funded.

Quotable

For 26 years, Joyce Delk has been asking to have her mile-long, dead-end, dirt road paved.

But she’s never even been able to find out where her road falls on the county’s priority list.

“We need accountability,” she said, “that’s the main thing.”

Getting Wilson McCoy Road paved would improve her community – and her car.

“After riding a dirt road, your car’s going to start squealing and bolts start coming lose. We can attest to that.”

Map: Six communities that have been the subject of neighborhood beautification studies


View Richland County Transportation Improvements: 10-22-2012 in a larger map

Document: Beautification study summaries

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