Tega Cay Mayor George Sheppard looks down an empty road, cars parked a half dozen wide and even deeper into the distance on the opposite side. He thinks of all the people who joked they’d never see the day it opened.
He thinks of the road’s namesake, who didn’t, but who once supported it wholeheartedly.
“The residents of Tega Cay are so excited about this day,” Sheppard said.
Within minutes Hubert Graham Way was open.
A new cut through for Tega Cay opened Friday morning with a ribbon cutting, bringing together city, York County and Pennies for Progress officials.
“When you look at this, you look at when people work together, what they can accomplish,” said Bill Shanahan, York County manager.
The road will be a major connection between historic and newer sections of the city.
The parkway originally made the second Pennies for Progress campaign in 2003. It was then estimated to cost $1.5 million. The actual cost as of opening will exceed $11 million. It was designed as a two-lane, 35 mph connector from Gold Hill Road to the Stonecrest area.
County leaders say while the cost did overrun its budget, there were major scope changes leading to it. Back in 2003 it was set to go through neighborhoods and then toward Stonecrest. The final alignment wasn’t approved until 2012. The road has sidewalks on both sides and, by about Labor Day, will have lights.
Pennies is a voter-approved 1-cent sales tax for use on road construction in York County. The new road comes at an important time for the Pennies program. The commission tasked with developing the next list of tax-funded road projects is wrapping up that process. York County Council should take up voting on the list through mid-July, with county voters approving or voting down the plan Nov. 7.
York County Councilman Michael Johnson represents the area where Hubert Graham Way is now open. The road is an example of “why Pennies works,” he said.
“It builds the roads that help improve our lives,” he said.
The road project spanned three Tega Cay mayors and five representatives in Johnson’s seat. Already, Pennies leaders are looking at $2.83 million in the coming campaign to extend the road to Zoar Road. It’s expected to siphon some traffic off heavily-traveled S.C. 160.
Johnson said of the $408 million generated by Pennies thus far, his area has seen about $151 million in improvements. It could see another $70 million in the upcoming Pennies.
The late Hubert Graham was the second mayor of Tega Cay. He served 1984-88.
“Mayor Graham was a huge supporter of Pennies for Progress,” Sheppard said.