COLUMBIA, S.C. — A project that would eliminate railroad crossings at key points in Columbia is gaining traction, thanks to state and local politicians working together.
State Representative Kirkman Finlay of Richland County is on the budget writing committee. He's asking for $35 million in the state budget to fund a project that would create flyovers or overpasses on Rosewood Drive, Assembly Street and Huger street.
“It’s gonna be expensive and painful but I think when it's done its gonna be worth it," said Finlay.
According to Finlay, the City of Columbia is planning to add $15 million. The combined $50 million would be matched by the federal government up to $250 million-- which is the estimated cost of the project.
“It’ll truly be the biggest project other than stuff like the ports authority, that we’ve ever done," said Finlay.
State Rep. Seth Rose of Richland County echoed support for the project, telling News 19 the current traffic problems are hurting the city's growth.
"The city slogan seems to be we’re open for business, but if we can’t get to businesses that's a real problem," said Rose.
Columbia resident Cindy Bradshaw can remember getting stuck behind the train for as long as she's lived here.
"I hope that they get it figured out," said Bradshaw. "It backs up traffic so bad.”
“It’s like a main access road so if you're stuck, you’re backing up traffic for however far," said resident Sam Fulmer.
“There’s no argument about whether it needs to be done. Now, the argument's about the money," said Finlay.
Finlay is asking for the money as a budget proviso, a line in the state budget which would give temporary authorization for the use of state money.
The proviso will be introduced once the House budget comes back from the Senate. Finlay and Rose said they're confident the funding will be approved.
“There are legislators from across the state that come here for several months every year that understand what this fix would mean for our Capitol City," said Rose.
Finlay said the project could take five to seven years to complete. No start date is planned.