On Monday, people driving in South Carolina -- including Kershaw County -- began paying 2 cents more in gasoline taxes when filling up their cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles. In 2017, the state legislature approved a total of a 12-cent increase in the gasoline tax at the rate of 2 cents a year for six years.
The goal is to repave or repair thousands of miles worth of roads across the state, something the public told legislators had been needed for years. One of those leaders is Kershaw County’s own State Sen. Vincent Sheheen.
Sheheen chaired the roads committee for the State Senate and for the Senate/House conference committee when the legislature developed the road funding plan.
“I insisted on provisions that benefitted rural counties in the funding, especially for resurfacing because it’s so desperately needed and a safety issue,” Sheheen said in an email in mid-June.
Each month, the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) updates a list of such projects by county. As of May 31, the Kershaw County list totaled nearly $9.49 million worth of projects. About $2.8 million worth of that work has been completed, leaving about $6.69 million worth of work yet to be done.
As of May 31, paving or repaving has only been completed on three projects: $1.45 million on 3.9 miles along of S.C. 261 (Boykin Road); $177,153 on 2.79 miles along Mill Creek Road; and $1.18 million along a combined 2.73 miles of Old Stagecoach Road, Bull Street and Roberts Street.
The remaining pavement projects, and their construction costs, are:
• 4.5 miles along U.S. 1 (Jefferson Davis Highway) -- $378,395;
• 4.78 miles along S.C. 97 (John G. Richards Road) -- $633,263;
• 3.56 miles combined along King Street, Church Street and Holland Road -- $324,936;
• 4.22 miles along Lockhart Road -- $1.2 million;
• 2.28 miles along S.C. 903 (McBee Highway) -- $832,496;
• 3.42 miles along U.S. 601 -- $1.82 million;
• 5.38 miles along Springvale Road -- $406,452;
• 4.02 miles combined along S.C. 34 (Bishopville Highway) and Jones Road -- $475,447; and
• 3.06 miles along U.S. 1 (including West DeKalb Street) -- $605,514.
There are also three rural road safety projects listed for development. The first two are $647,833 for 4.79 miles along U.S. 521 (Sumter Highway) and $37,500 for 2.95 miles along S.C. 903 (McBee Highway). The third, for 1.51 miles along S.C. 97 (John G. Richards Road), does not have any money allocated to the project.
These are all projects that have been or will be paid through the additional gasoline taxes the state is raising. According to SCDOT, there are a total of nearly $1 billion worth of projects the agency plans to work on using the additional gas tax money. Approximately $71.01 million of that work has been completed. Another $85.52 million is slated for development of rural road safety projects, including $6.75 million in multi-county projects.
That still leaves the vast majority -- $871.23 million -- slated for construction.
J. Allen Hutto, SCDOT’s legislative liaison, said the increase in the gas tax goes into what is known as the Infrastructure Maintenance Fund.” He also said the projects funded by the increase including mostly resurfacing, but also some bridge and -- as Sheheen noted -- safety projects.
There are other projects SCDOT has on the books for Kershaw County that are being paid for with existing funds. These include bridge replacements on U.S. 521 (Kershaw Highway) just north of Beard Road (2019); on U.S. 1 North just past the intersection with Youngs Bridge Road, approximately 1 mile south of Bethune (2019); U.S. 521 South (Sumter Highway) going over Big Pine Tree Creek south of Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site (2021); and U.S. 1 South going over the SCL Railroad as you enter or exit the town of Elgin (2020).
In addition, SCDOT is planning to begin replacing the bridges on both sides of I-20 going over the Wateree River and what is known as the Wateree Swamp Overflow in 2022.
There are also operational and safety projects, such as adding rumble strips and/or special pavement markings along Providence Road between U.S. 1 and Lockhart Road in the Cassatt area, Wateree Dam Road in Lugoff, along Tower and Baldwin roads near the Richland County line, and Black River Road as part of the corridor project that includes a section of U.S. 521 to Century Boulevard.
A sidewalk is being planned for a small portion of Wildwood Lane in 2021.
All of these projects, including those being paid for through the gasoline tax increase, can be viewed on an interactive map on SCDOT’s website. Go to https://arcg.is/LHqqC and zoom into Kershaw County. Tabs at the top of the map allow visitors to choose the types of projects to view. Clicking on a project -- usually a colored line or block -- will open a pop-up box with some information about the project.