Woodruff Road: Greenville County advances proposal to fund bypass with road fee revenue bonds
This story has been updated to clarify that the road fee revenue bond would be issued to replenish the county's genral fund balance after financing its portion of the Woodruff Road bypass project last year.
Greenville County Council's finance committee advanced a proposal to use road fee revenue bonds to replenish the county's general fund balance at its meeting on Monday, March 27, after using general fund money last fall to finance its portion of the $121 million Woodruff Road Congestion Relief Project.
If passed by County Council, Greenville County would then issue up to $31 million in bonds, which will be paid back from revenue generated by the county's road fees, according to county documents.
The county already distributed its funds for the project to the South Carolina State Infrastructure Bank last year, Finance Committee Chair Butch Kirven told The Greenville News on Friday, March 24. The revenue bonds currently under consideration, he said, would be used help the county pay itself back.
County Administrator Joe Kernell further explained at Monday's committee meeting that the county financed its portion of the project using cash from its general fund, and the bonds would be used help the county replenish that general fund balance "to the tune of about 2.2 million per year over the next 20 years."
The project was passed by County Council in December 2021, and has been a topic of discussion since 2011. The bypass has been GPATS top priority since 2013, Kirven previously told The Greenville News in 2021.
Before its passage, there were fears from some council members in Nov. 2021 that the project could potentially be denied by the county's finance committee, which had built a reputation at the time as the "kill committee," for voting down — or killing — multiple projects.
The new bypass will add a new roadway with four travel lanes roughly parallel to Woodruff Road to relieve traffic congestion near Verdae Boulevard, I-85 and I-385.
Construction is tentatively set to begin in 2026, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
The bypass will be jointly funded by the county, the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study and the South Carolina State Infrastructure Bank. The News previously reported the cost breakdown between the three entities:
GPATS will provide $42 million, 35% of the project's funding
Greenville County will provide $30,336,733, 25% of the project's funding
The South Carolina State Infrastructure Bank will provide $49,010,199, 40% of the projects funding
The proposed bond, if passed by County Council, would be required to be fully paid back by Dec. 31, 2048, if not sooner, with a net interest rate not to exceed 7%, according to county documents.
Raymond James & Associates is the bond's underwriter, meaning the company will sell the bond to investors.
Greenville County currently holds a AAA bond rating, the highest possible rating that may be assigned to an issuer's bonds by major credit-rating agencies. This rating, Kernell said Monday, will help the county when issuing the bonds.
The bond issuance would require three passing votes by County Council before going into effect.
City reporter Macon Atkinson contributed to this report.
− Tim Carlin covers county government, growth and development for The Greenville News. Follow him on Twitter @timcarlin_, and get in touch with him at TCarlin@gannett.com.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Greenville County could fund Woodruff Road bypass with revenue bond