Anderson County Transportation Committee
By Stan Welch
Members of the Anderson County Transportation Committee, or ACTC, heard from the county’s engineering consultants, CoTransco, at a Monday workshop concerning the various projects requested by the county’s municipalities.
The projects are restricted to secondary state roads, and are being funded by a one time allocation of approximately $216 million across the state. Anderson County’s share came to approximately $7.5 million.
West Pelzer had requested repairs, which will basically consist of patching and paving, for seven roads. The total mileage requested came to .87 miles, with an estimated total cost of $234.500, but the engineering firm recommended removal of one project.
The stretch of Dianne Avenue from Main Street to Stephanie Avenue was deemed to need no repair at this time. The PQI, or pavement quality index, for that stretch was described as high, and the road as being in great shape.
Williamston had four requested projects, totaling one and three quarter miles with an estimated cost of $512,500.
The committee was not authorized to approve the lists since they were meeting in a workshop format, which allows no votes to be taken. At the next regular meeting of the group, the lists could face additional modification before taking the final form which will be presented to the full County Council for approval.
The total mileage of projects proposed by all the county’s municipalities came to 24.14 miles, with a projected cost of just over twenty four miles, with a projected cost of $6.9 million. Added to that is a proposed list of SCDOT projects on secondary roads outside municipal limits. Those projects include just under 44 miles, with a projected cost of $12.5 million.
Two hours prior to the workshop, CTC chairman Ronny Townsend, a former state legislator, explained the makeup and function of the committee to the First Monday Club, a non-partisan group that meets for lunch and to hear various speakers on political issues.
Townsend explained that the ACTC was formed in the late Eighties as an arm of the local legislative delegation. “The idea was to return control of some of the money we send to Columbia each year back to the locals to decide how to use. In some counties, their committee reports directly to the delegation, but in Anderson, the county council has that control.”
He explained that each member of the delegation appoints one representative, thereby insuring even representation. The members serve two year terms and receive no pay. They normally disburse the C funds which each county gets from the state’s gas tax. Anderson county gets 2.66 cents per gallon, out of the 16.8 cent tax. He drew a distinction saying that the so called tax is actually a user fee.
“We get the same amount, no matter how high the price of gas goes, so it isn’t tied to cost but to volume.” He also pointed out that, as a result of that distinction, the revenues from that source have shrunk by twenty six percent over the last two decades. “As gas mileage in newer, smaller, and more efficient cars increases, gas sales decrease. So do the revenues.”
This year, county council appropriated $2.5 million in addition to the million and a half dollars in C funds. County roads and bridges director Holt Hopkins told the audience that the resulting paving contract which is about to go out for bids will be the largest one since 2003.
Townsend also explained that the state’s infrastructure bank gets fifty million dollars a year to use in leveraging an additional half billion dollars to be used in financing mainline infrastructure projects. “ I expect that all of that money will be used towards the tremendous damage our state roads and bridges have suffered in the last few days,” he said. “Where the money is coming from for more localized repairs is a question that the General Assembly is going to have to figure out. Our two ex officio committee members, Senator O’Dell and Rep. Thayer will face some interesting challenges in that regard, I’m sure.
He added that the recent repairs to the Gatewood subdivision entrance would be assessed and a decision made by the committee about funding additional work. The repaired entrance is currently barricaded according to the engineers from CoTransco, and the alternate entrance is being used.