COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX) - In a little more than a year, there will be an easier access to the Saluda River.
That's thanks to a new greenway that Richland County and the City of Columbia are working to construct within the next two months.
"When this is done, citizens will be able to walk from Gervais street all the way out to Lexington County to some of the amenities that are there," says Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia. "So this is bringing an unparalleled level of connectivity and improved quality of life to the region."
The first phase of the project will feature 3.2 miles of walking trails, parking and restrooms that will be located between the Saluda River and Riverbanks Zoo.
The project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018 and cost $5.9 million.
"It belongs to the people of South Carolina," says Michael Dawson, CEO of the River Alliance. "It is a state scenic river, it's gorgeous, they put trout in it ... but to get to it you have to go through a major exercise. But when this is finished you'll just have to come down and park and go and see it."
"The sales tax was implemented in about May of 2013 and to date about 225 to 250 million has been collected in sales tax," says David Beaty, programs manager for the Richland County Penny Program.
So far, $150 million of that money has gone towards projects. That includes the widening of North Main Street and Hardscrabble Road.
Those working along those roads say construction has had a huge impact on their businesses.
"They're tearing up and widening the road right in front of the building right now, which makes it difficult to get in and out of my place," says Bill Roberson, owner of Classical Glass. Roberson's business sits right off of N. Main Street.
"They actually took one of our driveways away, so now the parents are having a hard time coming in and out," says Vashanda Al-dhaheri, owner of the Devine Child Development Center, which sits along Hardscrabble Road.
While construction has been an inconvenience for business owners and drivers, there is some optimism about the outcome of the widening projects.
"I do think it's going to be a great expansion, especially during the 5 o'clock traffic where we stay in traffic for an hour, but we live 10 minutes away, " says Al-dhaheri.
"There is a mess out here now, but when it's done I believe it's going to be a beautiful thing," says Roberson.
The widening projects and the greenway construction are a small part of the work being done around the county to improve roadways.
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