Pickens Co. starts #KickingAsphalt initiative & website to address road problems

Local News

PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — Pickens County is pushing a new initiative called #KickingAsphalt to help solve road issues.

The county also launched a website to help you track what crews are doing to solve road issues with your tax dollars.

“What happened is a couple of months back county council did something bold and did something brave. They raised taxes in order to address the road issues on county roads in Pickens County,” said Ken Roper, County Administrator for Pickens County.

“And Pickens County is not a county that has a lot of tax increases. It’s the first time it’s been raised in 15 years,” said Roper. “So, when the county council took that brave step, it then became the county staff, the folks who work with me, it became our job to show the public how that bold step is going to impact their lives to show how quickly, and hard we were going to work to put that money to work.”

Some people said they have been driving on problems for years.

“They’re pretty bad. The roads have been neglected,” said Ann Barnhardt, a resident.  

“There are some areas of course that are in much need of repair. I’ve been in other parts of the state where they’re a lot worse. So in comparison, I think our roads, there are areas that need work, and I would like to see certain areas repaired,” said Jane Petersen, a resident.

Now the website, will allow anyone to report road maintenance issues in real time.

“So the whole goal is to show transparency. So that people can see the return on the taxpayers investment in our roads. So if they go to fixingcountyroads.com, there’s actually three things that you can do on that website,” Roper said. “The first one is, you can report road issues that you’re having in your community through that portal. You’ll open that part of the page, you can snap a picture with your phone, you can locate it on a map. You can send us a note whether it’s a pothole, a tree that’s infringing on the road, maybe an issue with a ditch, a sign issue, any of those types of problems, you can enter those through the portal,” Roper said.

Roper said that photo would then be geolocated to help crews find the problem and address it.

“It’s just like a traffic signal. It’s red, yellow, and green. So red means it’s a problem. Yellow means we’re working on it and green means it’s fixed,” Roper said.

“I think it’s good that they’re trying to provide that transparency to actually show residents of the county where our tax dollars are going and being spent, and so that people could actually see projects that are maybe being done,” Petersen said.

Secondly, Roper said you can see the roads the county has already paved this year and the roads its planning to pave.

“And the third thing that you can do, is that you can follow along with the actual fund itself. So we’ve got one fund that’s a Road Maintenance Fund, and one that is a Road Reserved Fund and on that website you can watch as we collect those tax dollars and you can watch as they are expended,” Roper said.

“So basically what it was, is a millage based system. So county taxes were raised 5.3 mills, to establish a regular sustainable road maintenance fund,” Roper said. “And then there was also 4.6 mills that taxes were raised to establish a reserve for emergencies or for long-term projects so that we could handle both the kind of crisis situation and so that we can kind of have a good sort of maintenance program as well,” he said.

Pickens County officials said they’re looking to collect $6 million in revenue for the upcoming year, adding that the average homeowner would see about a $10 to $15 increase on their annual tax bills.

“I don’t mind paying a little more to have better roads personally, but I also think it’s good that they’re showing us where our tax dollars are being spent,” Petersen said.

“We have 700 miles of county roads that doesn’t count state roads and state highways,” Roper said.

He also said it doesn’t include private roads.

“So of those 700 miles, we have every mile graded. Each has what we call a Pavement Condition Index and we will address them in many incidents worse to first. We will look at the roads that are in the worse shape and we will address those,” Roper said.

“We were able to spend and pave $5.3 million worth of roads in the last fiscal year, and we hope to kind of keep a pace with that,” Roper said. “If we do that, if we’re able to keep that pace, we can set our paving cycle at a 22-24 year cycle, which is something well within how long a road should last,” Roper said.

Click here to learn how to report your road maintenance issues and to see visuals of the upcoming road paving projects within the county.

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