Proposed ‘penny tax’ projects

November 4, 2012 

  • At thestate.com/election • Find the county’s proposed list of projects, as well as some details about bus plans. • Read previously published stories about the penny tax

Roads

Dozens of road-widening and improvement projects costing $656 million and totaling 46 miles have been identified for voters.

They tend to favor congested Northeast Richland and Lower Richland, where public services have lagged.

In the Northeast, big-dollar projects include the widening of Clemson, Hard Scrabble and Spears Creek Church roads.

The largest single project on the list is the Shop Road Extension, a new road extending into Lower Richland. In addition, the county intends to widen Pineview and Atlas roads.

Most of the county’s projects have not been designed and lack details.

Additionally, County Council has not identified specific projects that would be funded with $148 million set aside for dirt road paving, resurfacing and neighborhood streetscaping projects in six communities.

Buses

The city-county bus system would get $301 million, money the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority would use to operate the system until 2035.

While expanded routes have not been determined, some early goals include:

• Improving frequency, with most bus lines running every 30 minutes and many pushing toward 15-minute intervals.

• Buying 20-25 small buses for efficiency.

Installing about 50 shelters, selecting locations to serve the most riders.

• Investing in new technology, such as solar-panel information boards, to update passengers on arrivals and departures.

But details on bus improvements that would be made with proceeds from a new sales tax won’t be available until after the public votes.

Some residents at public forums have criticized the lack of details, given the system’s troubled history.

Bikeways, sidewalks, greenways

The county has devoted $81 million to amenities for people who walk and bicycle.

The money would add sidewalks along about 49 miles of streets, bike lanes along 120 miles of roads and 31 miles of nature trails, or greenways.

Most of the money would be spent in the city of Columbia.

At $7.9 million, the largest single expenditure would build a 3-mile Saluda Riverwalk, passing alongside the zoo and extending to an elevated pedestrian bridge over a rocky set of islands before connecting with the current Riverfront Park.

At $2.7 million, the largest sidewalk project would serve Two Notch Road, from Alpine Road to Spears Creek Church Road.

And the most expensive bike lane would run along Blossom Street, from Huger Street to Assembly Street. Cost: $2.6 million.

Some say while sidewalks and nature trails would be nice, the county should have pared back its request to the most urgent need — bus service — while so many families continue struggling in the unsteady economy.

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