This is in response to Katherine Jackson’s May 1 letter to the editor on paving. There are four types of roads in York County. They each are unique and have differing rules, regulations and funding options. The following is a brief summary of these four types:
1. Private Road – A road that is non-governmentally maintained but serves more than two residences or properties. The road is located on private property or easement that may be shared with more than one property owner.
2. Municipal Street – A road that has been officially accepted into a particular city/town/municipality and is maintained by that agency. The road must be listed as a part of the city/town/municipality official inventory of maintained roads.
3. County Road – A road that has been officially accepted into the county’s road inventory. The road is maintained by the county. The road must be listed as a part of the county official inventory of maintained roads.
4. State Road – A road that has been officially accepted into the state’s road inventory. The road is maintained by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT). The road must be listed as a part of the state official inventory of maintained roads. The SCDOT is responsible for maintaining the 1,390 miles of roads within York County that are part of its road maintenance system.
The state collects 16 cents per gallon of gas, which represents its major funding source. The tax generates approximately $270 million a year for maintenance state-wide. If this funding were divided evenly among the 46 counties in South Carolina (which it is not), each county would receive a little over $5 million per year for maintenance. The SCDOT has estimated it needs a little over $29 billion to bring its roads back up to an acceptable level.
The SCDOT is the agency responsible for the condition of Ramah Church Road. This is not a county road. It is not a city/town/municipality road. The Highway Commission (including the chairman of the commission, W. B. Cook from Cherokee County) is responsible for overseeing the operations and finances for the SCDOT. The Highway Commission must approve all money that is to be spent by the SCDOT.
York County does not have jurisdiction with regard to Ramah Church Road (or any other state-maintained road). York County Council District 3 gets less than $350,000 per year in C-funds to try to maintain all public roads within the district. (York County has more than 2,360 miles of roads).
The average cost to resurface one mile of two-lane road in York County is $350,000. That means each council district receives enough C-funds a year to resurface 1 mile of road.
To resurface Ramah Church Road would take 100 percent of the funding for 2.4 years. That would mean nothing else would get done – no calcium chloride, no paving parking lots, no improving ditching, no triple seal to preserve existing pavement – nothing else district-wide for 2.4 years. To appropriate the funding in this way, when the road is the responsibility of the SCDOT, would be unfair to the rest of the district and truly a misuse of the C-funds program.
Ms. Jackson needs to take the matter up with the SCDOT. The road is a state road and under its jurisdiction.
I am concerned about the condition of all the roads in my district. I am just not provided the funding to fix them all.
I have been pushing for a 1 percent sales tax increase similar to the Pennies for Progress Program to be used exclusively for road maintenance. If approved, this could be on the ballot in November for the voters of York County to decide.
As far as what has been done in the areas Ms. Jackson mentioned, since 2010 over $401,000 has been spent from C-funds to improve the roads in the vicinity of Ramah Church Road and the Beersheba, Smyrna and New Zion communities.
Joe Cox represents District 3 on the York County Council and is council vice chairman.