Orange barrels, bulldozers and cleared trees are a welcome sight along S.C. 274.
Widening the stretch to five lanes from Wedgefield Road to S.C. 49 has been something residents and businesses have waited on for more than a decade.
It's one of two "Pennies for Progress" projects, voted on in 1997, that are starting construction this spring. S.C. 901, from Albright Road to Interstate 77, should see barrels soon, said County Engineer Mark Kettlewell.
But even better is that construction for the S.C. 901 work is expected to cost $1 million less than estimated. It's welcome news for the program that has been plagued by rising construction costs and a $22.8 million shortfall.
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"We may have a million less to scramble for later," said County Manager Jim Baker. "We're still working with estimates, so that doesn't mean a later project won't come in higher. It doesn't solve the problem, but it's certainly a step in the right direction."
Three projects are left in the original 1997 program: the S.C. 5 bypass in York and the widening of Cherry Road and S.C. 72 in Rock Hill.
The county still needs to find a way to finance the bypass, Kettlewell said.
Two more projects -- widening S.C. 5 and S.C. 161 -- are under construction.
Pennies for Progress is a voter-approved program that uses an additional 1-cent sales tax to raise money for road improvements. The vote in 1997 approved improvement to 14 roads. In 2003, voters agreed to continue the tax to pay for another 25 projects.
Several council members have said the 14 projects from the 1997 vote need to be completed before residents will be asked to vote a third time to continue the program. That could come as early as 2010.
Two spring projects
The four miles of S.C. 274 being widened will have five lanes and curb and gutter to match stretches of road around it. It'll take more than two years to complete this $19.4 million leg of the project, Kettlewell said.
"We gave notice to proceed in January," Kettlewell said. "They've started clearing out there and are getting ready to start waterline replacement work."
The work is part of a $31 million, seven-mile project from S.C. 161. The first leg already has been completed.
The improvements helped attract truckmaker Freightliner to move offices from Washington to S.C. 274 near Allison Creek, said Tom Smith, county councilman for Clover and Lake Wylie.
"Companies of that size look at access in and out for their employees," Smith said. "When we were on the site with them in the fall, it was comforting to point out that we had just let out bids for the road."
The wider S.C. 274 also will make the area more desirable to other businesses, something Smith said is already starting to happen.
The three-mile S.C. 901 project will take less than two years to complete, Kettlewell said. The road will be widened to five lanes from S.C. 72 to I-77.
A Columbia-based company was awarded the $13.8 million contract for S.C. 901.
Originally, work on S.C. 901 was estimated at $5.4 million. That rose in 2002 to $7.6 million and again to $14.9 million last year.
Some council members were reluctant to approve the bid, which was $550,000 lower than the closest bid. Smith was concerned about additional costs down the road. Although the county hasn't worked with that company before, Kettlewell doesn't expect to see additional charges.