First Penny Tax Construction Project Begins

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The first project under Richland County's Transportation Penny Tax got underway Thursday.

Voters approved the tax in 2012, and it's projected to bring millions to infrastructure and transportation improvements in the county.

A ceremonial dig kicked off a dirt road paving program in Northeast Richland County.

"It's a great thing, and I'm just happy to be here to see it done," said Teronal Wilson, a 35 year resident of the area known as State Park Acres.

Wilson said the roads have cost her in wear and tear on her car, amounting to hundreds of dollars.

"A lot of us, we go out the other way now instead of coming this way to avoid the dirt roads. But we still have to travel them," Wilson said.

County officials said the penny tax has already brought in hundreds of millions.

County Council approved a company to begin construction on close to 10 dirt roads in the county on Tuesday, said County Councilman Kelvin Washington.

Councilman Torrey Rush, whose district the area falls into, worked to bring the first shovels here.

"This was in works for years now," Rush said, "so to be able to have it come fruition makes sense."

Officials said there are more than 250 miles of dirt roads in the county. The area set to be paved encompassed about three miles.

County Council Chair Norman Jackson, also a non-voting member of the Transportation Penny Advisory Committee, said more projects will begin soon.

"We have another $45 million to pave more roads in the county," Jackson said.

Jackson said Council hopes to name a project manager for another round of dirt road improvements within the next three weeks.

"From then, they'll choose different engineer firms to design and do the right away permitting," Jackson said.

County officials said they were hoping to have this project done by October.


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