May 23—The connector road between Pawnee-Neilson Street and Dougherty Road on Aiken's Southside is moving along.
The City of Aiken is pursuing the purchase of the remaining 30 feet of right of way to get all the land it needs for the road, known as the Pawnee-Neilson Connector, which will parallel Whiskey Road.
The connector road "would connect from essentially where the Walmart detention pond is to Dougherty Road (and) would be a more substantial road than the current (Pawnee-Neilson Street) that runs from basically Fabian Drive to Dougherty," said Stuart Bedenbaugh, city manager.
The connector road should "alleviate, but not eliminate" additional footwork and traffic off Whiskey and Dougherty roads.
In October 2018, the city entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Michael D. Rubin Family LP, where the city was given 50 feet of right of way by Rubin for the planned Pawnee-Nielson Connector, and the city agreed to pay appraised value for any additional right of way required. The 30 feet being purchased now is the additional right of way needed.
The purchase and annexation of this right of way passed through the City of Aiken Planning Commission unanimously, which allows it to move on to Aiken City Council. Bedenbaugh said it will be on one of the next council agendas to be considered.
This connector road project is semi-tied together with a separate project: the Woodford Trace apartments being built off of Owens Street, near Whiskey and Dougherty roads and next to the existing Palmetto Crossing apartments.
"When the Woodford Trace project was proposed in 2019, one of the negotiable items we worked with the developer on is that, as part of his project, he would construct a portion of that road that's adjacent to where the Woodford Trace apartments are going to go," Bedenbaugh said.
"The Woodford Trace developer was going to come in and do the apartments and as part of the negotiation, since they were going to add some traffic, he agreed to construct a small portion of that road as part of his development," Bedenbaugh continued.
The connector road project does have some timeliness, as the city has a deadline of June 30 to have acquired the additional right of way and annexed it into the city. Bedenbaugh says he believes the city will meet that deadline. If the city doesn't meet that deadline, the Woodford Trace developers have no obligation to complete their portion of the project, according to council documents.