Drivers on five major roads in eastern York County are about to get a much smoother ride. For everyone else? Just wait.
Last week, construction bids came in for Mount Gallant, New Gray Rock, Old Friendship, Harris and Springsteen roads. Paving the way for, well, paving.
“Those roads will hopefully get started, March maybe?” said Patrick Hamilton, Pennies for Progress program manager. “March or April. So before the tax even begins we’ll have projects under construction.”
On Nov. 7, York County residents voted to extend a one-cent sales tax to generate money for road construction. The vote passed with almost 78 percent in favor. It was the fourth Pennies campaign, hence Pennies 4, approved by residents since 1997.
“The tax does not actually begin until May 1,” said Patrick Hamilton, Pennies program manager. Pennies 3 will end on April 30, and Pennies 4 goes into effect.”
The county couldn’t wait.
Though the first check from the state department of revenue won’t arrive until August or September, Hamilton’s group got the state department of transportation involved in planning before the referendum even passed. York County Council the approved a $16 million loan last November to get started.
“One of the things that we jump started quickly was the resurfacing projects,” Hamilton said. “We started working with DOT last summer. They’ve been great partners.”
Better news still, Pennies budgeted $6.7 million for the five roads connecting businesses and homes in Rock Hill, Fort Mill and Tega Cay. The bids came in at $5.2 million.
“We expected them to come in under (budget), but $1.5 million is a good surprise for us,” Hamilton said.
Past Pennies campaigns were marred by cost and calendar concerns. Projects took longer and cost more than anticipated. Those factors are related. By hitting the ground running with Pennies 4, like having the state transportation department get the bid process ready for a successful vote, Hamilton is hopeful he can alleviate both.
“I like that direction a lot better,” said Councilwoman Christi Cox.
Up next are resurfacing of Oakridge, Beersheba, Wood and Farris roads. Those bids should come in next month. Hamilton expects they’ll be under budget, too.
“The first group was all kind of the eastern side of the county,” he said. “The second group is the western side of the county.”
Combined, about $11 million of roads — more than 21 miles — should be resurfaced this year through Pennies. All of it could be done by fall, especially if a separate contractor wins the bid for the western roads.
“If the same contractor is awarded group two, that’s a lot of work for them to do,” Hamilton said.
Pennies leaders hope to stay ahead of the paving curve.
“We’ll send the DOT another group of roads this summer for them to work up over the fall to bid out this time next year, for the spring of 2019,” Hamilton said.
While resurfacing was a major ask by the community heading into Pennies 4, and a new addition for this round, it’s just setting the table for the main course work. Pennies 4 will resurface 80 miles of road at a projected $50 million. Five large projects carried over from Pennies 3 will be $60 million. Another 14 major projects combine for the rest of the almost $278 million Pennies 4.
Scope and costs are being developed now for 11 of those 14 major projects, with the state designing one for a cost savings. Hamilton expects the projects to be under contract by April, again before the new tax officially begins.
“Twelve of the 14 projects are underway in some form or fashion,” Hamilton said.
While Pennies 4 is off to a fast start, work continues on Pennies 3. The big ticket item on that 2011 vote was a widening of S.C. 274 and Pole Branch Road in Lake Wylie. The most recent budget for that project was $35 million, about $10 million more than projected when voters went to the polls seven years ago.
“We opened bids last week on that project,” Hamilton said. “Bids came in just under $30 million, which is what we expected. We’ll be bringing that bid to council hopefully on March 19 to award that contract.”
Construction should begin in April. By the summer, bids should be in for S.C. 160 West from Gold Hill Road to the state line ($11.4 million projected cost), the Gold Hill Road and I-77 interchange ($12.5 million) and the Anderson and Cowan Farm roads intersection in Rock Hill ($6.5 million). Fall bids include the Fort Mill Parkway and Spratt Street intersection ($10.3 million), Mount Gallant from Dave Lyle Boulevard to Anderson in Rock Hill ($26.3 million) and the U.S. 321 and Barrett connector in Clover ($5.2 million).
“We have a very busy rest of the year,” Hamilton said.
Several ongoing construction projects should wrap up this year. A sidewalk and bike lane project at University Drive in Rock Hill and the Ross Cannon intersection in York should wrap up this spring. Widening of Cel-River in Rock Hill and work on Hwy. 97 in western York County should follow this summer, with the fall finishing up the a railroad crossing in Rock Hill. Work on McConnells Highway should wrap up in the spring of 2019.
Other projects should come later.
Staff is acquiring right-of-way now for S.C. 557 in Lake Wylie. The same will happen for S.C. 160 East in Fort Mill this spring, and U.S. 21 this summer. Riverview Road in Rock Hill and U.S. 321 in York should begin in the fall, with S.C. 72 starting in the fall or winter.
“Some of these larger projects like (U.S.) 21 (from Springfield Parkway to S.C. 160 in Fort Mill, budgeted at almost $36 million), that could take a year and a half to two years just to acquire the right-of-way. I think there’s over 100 parcels we have to get right-of-way for, so, a lengthy process. But the sooner we start, the sooner we can start construction.”