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Published on July 29th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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County’s Transportation Penny Program Shifting into High Gear

In its first year, Richland County’s transportation sales tax brought in $53 million – $3 million more than anticipated.

The higher-than-projected revenue puts the County closer to the voter-approved goal of generating $1.07 billion through a penny sales tax increase over 22 years. If revenue continues to exceed projections, the transportation initiative could reach its goal sooner than anticipated, shortening the lifespan of the sales tax increase.

Seven miles of dirt roads are being paved this summer, said Richland County Transportation Director Rob Perry. Six intersection improvement projects should get underway soon.

“That’s six of our 15 planned intersections,” he said. “So we’re really excited about that.”

Those six intersections are Broad River Road and Rushmore Road, North Springs Road and Risdon Way, North Springs Road and Clemson Road, Summit Parkway and Summit Ridge Road, Pisgah Church Road and Farrow Road, and Kennerly Road and Steeple Ridge Road. Construction could begin within nine months, depending on SC Department of Transportation reviews and approvals.

Additionally, 13 miles of County roads are expected to be resurfaced this fall, and four more dirt roads will be paved.

Perry said that to have the transportation program running at full production, three key things are necessary:

· Hire a program development team. That was accomplished June 30 when County Council selected the team of ICA, Brownstone and MB Kahn as the program development team to oversee the broad range of infrastructure improvement projects planned.

· Reach an agreement with SCDOT. Because two-thirds of the roads targeted for Penny improvements are within the state’s road system, an agreement between the two governments is necessary. The deal was signed in February.

· Prioritize projects. The program development team will prioritize projects by category and submit its recommendations in October for County Council.

Then, residents will be able to see the type and location of future projects.

Before construction occurs, Perry said the program development team undertakes a lot of tasks, such as updating cost estimates, setting up a right-of-way acquisitions policy, managing utility relocations, and handling procurement, finance and accounting policies.

“These are all the big things you have to have in place to implement a huge transportation program,” Perry said. “You need to have these upfront documents and policies and procedures ironed out.”

For more information about the Transportation Penny Tax, visit www.rcgov.us and click on the Transportation Penny link.

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