What roads will get fixed in Lexington County? New penny tax projects being considered

·3 min read

Lexington County is weighing what road projects need the most immediate attention, as the deadline to submit proposals for a countywide referendum this November approaches.

The county council this week discussed what projects to recommend when voters are asked to approve a capital penny sales tax on Election Day in November, and how best to evaluate one need over another.

A commission set up to draft the ballot proposal for November has asked local governments to submit their suggestions by Feb. 9, the day after the county council’s next scheduled meeting.

At its meeting on Tuesday, council members considered traffic congestion, intersection improvements, road widening and paving dirt roads.

Public Works Director Brent Hyatt presented council members with his department’s assessment of potential projects, but asked council members for their recommendations to send to the penny tax commission.

Construction is underway on Pine View Elementary School on Amick’s Ferry Road in Chapin.
Construction is underway on Pine View Elementary School on Amick’s Ferry Road in Chapin.

“Are there some specific projects that are not addressed, like the resurfacings that are not included or some community that needs attention?” Hyatt asked.

Councilman Todd Cullum said rather than ranking all potential projects, council members should break out the different categories of projects they want the commission to consider.

“So we can have priority number one on traffic congestion projects, priority number one on dirt paving, priority number one on intersection improvements,” Cullum said.

Hyatt said his department is looking at projects that were considered for an unsuccessful 2014 referendum. “In 2014, widening Long Pond Road was a high priority,” he said. “So we’ve begun the legwork to update that.”

Other potential widening candidates include St. Peter’s Church Road and Pisgah Church Road. Some members said dirt roads will also need to be paved to get broad support for the penny tax in November’s election.

Several council members said they have been contacted by constituents who want highly-trafficked roads resurfaced. Council Chairman Scott Whetstone said if you drive down some stretches of Pond Branch Road, “it will beat the fillings out of your teeth.”

Whetstone also said he wants to see safety improvements in the Bethany Church Road and Boiling Springs Road areas.

“I’ve already told my son that is off limits until they do something,” he said. “You don’t know how many kids have been killed there in the last few years... There are crosses all over the place.”

While acknowledging many of the roads likely to be included in the project package will be state-maintained, rather than county roads, council members said they want to be sure the S.C. Department of Transportation is also giving Lexington County its fair share of state dollars for road improvement.

“I don’t want them to say, ‘we don’t have to worry about Lexington County any more. They’ll take care of our stuff with their penny,’” Whetstone said. But he also acknowledged that sometimes the best way to get a sympathetic hearing from state officials is to show “we’ve got skin in the game.”

Councilwoman Debbie Summers said she gets a lot of calls for potholes on Kitti Wake Drive. But Hyatt said DOT already has that road scheduled for resurfacing.

Once a final list is drawn up, county voters will have the final say on the list and whether they agree with the penny tax to pay for it in November’s election.

Lexington County has felt the strain on its infrastructure because of an explosion of growth in recent years. The county froze new subdivision permitting for much of 2021 partly out of concern for all the cars heading down county roads to all the new housing being constructed in the county.

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