LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Road improvements to ease congestion across Lexington County should be the focus of a proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax, County Council members decided Wednesday.
New roads and repairs constitute the bulk of the plan settled on by council members for using a tax estimated to generate up to $300 million over eight years, if voters give it the go-ahead at a Nov. 4 referendum.
“Traffic problems are what is driving this idea,” council chairman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said. “We’re trying to give citizens the opportunity to fix problems.”
Road improvements make up about two-thirds of two dozen projects suggested by the nine council members. At the top of their list are:
• A new connection to Columbia Metropolitan Airport off I-26 to provide quicker access for cargo haulers and passengers.
• Upgrading access to I-26 at the southern edge of an industrial area near Cayce that is attracting firms such as an Amazon distribution center and Nephron Pharmaceuticals medicine manufacturing facility.
• Opening a regional service center in the western part of the county that would be a new home for deputies, ambulances, magistrates and more.
• Paving approximately 100 miles of dirt roads, nearly a seventh of those across the county.
• Widening Longs Pond Road corridor at I-26, a major commuter route in the center of the county.
Those road projects are on top of others sought by many of the county’s 15 municipalities.
A six-member advisory panel will winnow the suggestions this spring in settling on a package of projects that would be accomplished with the tax.
The tax can be used on roads, sidewalks, buildings, water and sewer facilities, parks, trails, libraries, parking, drainage and other improvements.
Councilman Bobby Keisler of Red Bank warned there is “no way” the tax increase will find favor with voters.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.