Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the beginning of the end of the one-cent sales tax projects.
They ceremonially broke ground for the Bacons Bridge Road improvements, a project that will coincide with the widening of Delemar Highway.
Engineering firm Davis & Floyd and contractor Banks Construction will begin with improvements to the intersection of S.C. 61 and S.C. 165, slated for completion in July 2013.
The entire Bacons Bridge project, which includes widening to five lanes from Dolphin Drive, near where the road currently narrows, to S.C. 61; multi-use paths alongside the road; and a hiker-biker trail beneath the Ashley River bridge to allow people to get from Richard Rosebrock Park to the newly-purchased county park on the opposite side, should be complete in September 2015.
The Delemar Highway project is separate from the one-cent sales tax projects.
It’s funded by State Transportation Infrastructure Bank funds, which have a Jan. 1, 2016 deadline for project completion.
The design contract with Dennis Corporation should be signed next week, and at that time the county will have a timeline for the project, County Administrator Jason Ward said.
At Wednesday’s groundbreaking, Summerville Mayor Bill Collins credited the taxpayers for voting for the sales tax back in 2004.
“Dorchester County stepped up with this one-cent sales tax when other areas of the state have not,” he said.
Since he’s taken office, he said, he’s heard constantly about traffic and the roads. Now, with Summerville being named one of the top 25 places to retire, he joked, “Overnight I think another thousand people moved here.”
Collins said the remainder of the Berlin G. Myers Parkway, the largest outstanding project, will get done.
Mark Pilgrim, vice chairman of the Dorchester County Sales Tax Transportation Authority, called the parkway the 800-pound gorilla but said the authority is still working on it.
“If somebody would please find an alternative for the Corps of Engineers, would you please meet with me after?” he joked, referring to the environmental issues that have suspended the final phase of the project.
However, he noted that the Bacons Bridge Road project is fully funded, and he thanked Davis & Floyd for helping find additional funding for this and other road projects.
“They have helped us raise over $100 million in additional funding,” he said.
Marshall Murdaugh, chairman of the authority, said all the projects but two included in the 2004 referendum are completed or in progress.
Environmental issues are also plaguing the remainder of the U.S. 78 project, he said.
However, when the authority began its work, there were 482 county dirt roads, and now 390 have been paved, he said.
“I think we spent wisely,” Murdaugh said.
County Council Chairman Larry Hargett thanked Robby Robbins and Sean Bennett for their work getting the referendum passed.
He predicted that residents would look back 40 years from now with “wonder and appreciation” for the smart thinking and planning that resulted in the improved roads.
Matt Lifsey, Lowcountry regional production engineer with S.C. DOT, said Dorchester’s intergovernmental agreement for completing the work of the referendum has become a model throughout the state.
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