SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg County’s asphalt roadway condition score is 57.5 out of 100, meaning the county is failing. But soon presented on voters’ ballots in a month will be an attempt to fix this.
“The penny would fund 577 projects all across Spartanburg County,” said Allen Smith, president and CEO of One Spartanburg, Inc.
The penny sales tax is a one percent sales tax that is already in place, and was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2017. If it’s renewed again this year, the money will go towards improving roads instead, and it’s expected to generate $478 million over its six year period.
“Not to make light of any tax, but it’s just not a tax that hits you real hard,” said Manning Lynch, Chairman of Spartanburg County Council. “You pay for a little tiny bit along the way and you pay for it only if you want to, your food is exempt, your drugs are exempt, medical supplies exempt.”
The roads that would be worked on are selected by the county’s engineering department, which considers factors like traffic count and the condition of the pavement. There’s also a second system used to determine which roads would be fixed.
“Roads were chosen by a six-member commission of our peers,” said Smith. “They looked at road projections, safety and volume. If it’s a high volume road, it’s prioritized. If it’s an unsafe intersection, it’s prioritized. There are 14 intersections over the past 5 years in Spartanburg County where 3 people have died.”
The county has ranked the importance of the road projects they would execute, and has organized it into 6 tiers. Therefore tier 1 projects would be funded and in effect before tier 2 projects and so on.
“One of our main priorities ought to be those things people can’t do for themselves, so the infrastructure, roads and bridges of Spartanburg County are a primary function of county government so that’s why we’re here,” said Lynch.
Aside from poor road conditions being an inconvenience for drivers, county leaders are emphasizing safety concerns.
“We are number one in South Carolina for traffic fatalities. In fact, three people died over the weekend,” said Smith. “We’ve got to make our roads safer. Visitors need to help us pay. They tear up our roads, 34% to 39% of the revenue would come from visitors if we say yes on November 7. That’s $160-180 million coming from people that don’t even live here to fix our roads.”
The voter registration deadline is October 6. For more information, click here.
There are 577 proposed projects. Below are the categories of projects and how much the county plans to spend on each if the Referendum passes:
- County Resurfacing: 478 projects, $165M
- SCDOT Resurfacing: 38 projects, $158M
- Intersection Improvements: 14 projects, $42M
- County Corridor Reconstruction: 7 projects, $40M
- Stormwater Improvements: 30 projects, $28M
- County Bridge Replacements: 10 projects, $24M
- City/Municipal Resurfacing: $12 million
- County Safety Improvements: $9 million, Includes re-striping, raised (reflective) pavement marking installation, rumble strips, guardrail, and clearing of right-of-way