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Capital projects: Kings River Road repaving at top of sales tax list

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Kings River Road and others on the Waccamaw Neck will be among the first to be repaved with funds from an additional penny sales tax in Georgetown County, according to a schedule presented to County Council this week.

County Administrator Sel Hemingway reviewed the status of 54 projects that included all phases of the $28 million Capital Projects Sales Tax allocation approved by voters last November. Though dredging Winyah Bay and the port of Georgetown was the top priority of the tax package, road improvements will be the first evidence taxpayers will see. “We wanted activity throughout the county earlier rather than later,” Hemingway said.

The state Department of Transportation suggested the $9 million in planned road work be divided into three phases to attract more bidders. The first phase will include roads on the Waccamaw Neck and in the Maryville section of Georgetown. The second phase will be in Andrews and the western part of the county. And the third phase will be within the city of Georgetown.

Bids on the first two phases are expected within six months. The city of Georgetown agreed to be the final phase because it will take time to complete work on a new Broad Street landscape plan, raise manhole covers and repair curbs before paving can begin. Resurfacing of nearly 90 roads is expected to be completed within two years.

Reshuffling of the penny tax spending priorities will be possible if the county borrows the money. County Council members approved first reading of an ordinance this week that allows the issuance of up to $28 million in bonds to be issued for the work. Hemingway said the county won’t need to borrow the full amount and will be conservative with the authority, paying cash when possible. Voters approved borrowing the money as part of the referendum last November in order to take advantage of interest rates lower than rising construction costs.

Willbrook traffic | Hemingway said he is not sure the proposed roundabout at Willbrook Boulevard and Wildcat Way will be built. The county is exploring options to handle traffic from Waccamaw Intermediate and Waccamaw Middle schools entering Willbrook with the state Department of Transportation.

Highway commissioner Mike Wooten and county engineers met with DOT traffic engineers in Columbia this month to review a signalization project for Highway 17 and Sandy Island Road and discuss alternatives from the draft report from the engineering firm of Davis and Floyd regarding Willbrook traffic.

The report concluded the county and school district should work together to reroute fourth- and fifth-grade traffic and curtail motorists from using St. Paul Place. “All of these need to be exhausted before permanent improvement to Wildcat-Willbrook is considered,” the report said.

Intersection improvement | A redesigned intersection of Martin Luther King Road and Petigru Drive is not scheduled for completion before December 2016 when Davis and Floyd completes design plans, public meetings will be scheduled. The county anticipates six months of right-of-way acquisition and permitting and eight months of bidding and construction.

Bike the Neck has asked to piggyback a bike path on the design. Funding will come from DOT, the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study and the county’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Rural fire stations | Sellers General Construction has begun work on fire department substations at Yauhannah, Williams Hill and Carvers Bay. The county is in the process of acquiring land for the remaining six substations in the proposal. A substation site in the southern part of the county should be large enough to accommodate a proposed new library to be built with grant funds and money from the county Capital Improvement Program, the plan suggested.

The full service Big Dam Swamp Fire Station is in the land acquisition phase. Completion is scheduled for fiscal year 2017. The county is waiting on the town of Andrews to approve designs for new police and fire facilities before committing the $1.5 million approved by voters.

Recreation facilities | New outdoor skateboard facilities are in the Capital Improvement Plan for the Waccamaw Neck and Georgetown.

Two beach access points for the handicapped at Garden City are planned with funds from county Parks and Recreation. The access points will be built using county workers.

Several sections of the Bike the Neck path need repair because of damage from tree roots or worn asphalt, the report said. Quotes for the repair work are being sought. Funding will come from Parks and Recreation’s budget.

The barn at Stables Park will be converted to a regional park maintenance facility.

Drainage | Coordination with DOT on Highway 17 drainage and the installation of a new median is scheduled for completion in November.

The engineering firm Stantec is continuing with the redesign and permitting of a drainage project along Tyson Drive west of Kings River Road. The county is coordinating the remaining construction easements. Bids have been delayed due to the redesign. A drainage study for Litchfield Beach is beginning with the collection of data. A survey is in progress for a project along Tiller Drive and Commerce Drive.

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