SC DOT commissioners approve $10M to pay cities and counties to take over roads; Greenville has interest

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South Carolina Department of Transportation commissioners have approved $10 million for a pilot program that would pay cities and counties to take over some roads that are currently in the state system.

Greenville may be interested.

Greenville’s public works department and engineers have compiled a list of state roads the city has interest in taking over, either because they are downtown, in areas that are ripe for economic development, in residential areas, or they border the city’s planned Unity Park.

At more than 41,000 miles, South Carolina’s state-maintained road system is the fourth largest in the country. Fifty-three percent of all roads in South Carolina are owned and maintained by the state. In Greenville, the state maintains major interstates and arteries such as Interstate 85 and Woodruff Road, main downtown roads, and some in residential neighborhoods.

The top 10 streets on the list that city Public Works Director Mike Murphy presented to the City Council’s Committee on Development and Finance were all downtown or near bordering Unity Park. Streets on the list were North and South Hudson Street, Mayberry Street, West Broad Street, West McBee Avenue, East and West Park Avenue, Atwood Street, and West and East Washington Street.

McDaniel Avenue, a street into downtown from Augusta Street where residents have complained about speeding, and North Main Street were just outside the top 10.

Removing the streets from state control would give the city flexibility in streetscaping and road design. Because McDaniel Avenue is a state road, the city cannot install speed humps, a traffic-calming method it has used in other areas. Mayor Knox White has said that getting approval to put parking spaces on a state-owned road downtown or rearranging parking can often take a year. He said Greenville Water System’s landscaping plan for its office building on Washington Street still isn’t complete because the state DOT says it’s not safe to plant trees in the area between the street and sidewalk, even though there are trees on the rest of the street.

Under a pilot program approved by the state Transportation Commission earlier this month, the state would pay cities and counties to take over mutually agreed upon roads based on their condition and cost of maintenance over 40 years, said SC DOT Director Christy Hall. For 1 mile of a two-lane paved secondary road in good condition, the state would pay the local government $561,234. Reimbursement for a similar road in poor condition would be $847,989.

Murphy told councilmembers the money would come with no strings attached, but that the city would take over ownership of the road from then on. He said he doesn’t expect the $10 million to go very far.

“The sooner we get a list to them [state DOT], the better position we’ll be in to take advantage of it,” he said. “I think we will be lucky to get three roads, but more than likely two.”

Hall told commissioners that Greenville, Hilton Head, and the York County area have expressed interest. She said the turnback program would be re-evaluated each year as part of the state budget process.


Turning back

South Carolina wants to divest itself from some of the roads it has to maintain. Greenville may be interested in taking some off its hands. Here are the top 10 on the city’s list of roads it may be willing to take over.

Road                                         Centerline Miles       *Est. cost per centerline mile

North Hudson Street                          0.14 miles                   $19,093.76

South Hudson Street                          0.49 miles                   $18,272.59

Mayberry Street                                 0.57 miles                   $18,044.07

West Broad Street                              0.09 miles                   $41,702.87

West McBee Avenue                           0.15 miles                   $53,416.33

East Park Avenue                               0.61 miles                   $30,687.58

West Park Avenue                              0.27 miles                   $20,678.58

Atwood Street                                    0.22 miles                   $18,654.49

West Washington Street                     1.47 miles                    $32,672.00

East Washington Street                       1.20 miles                   $34,291.19

*Based on the number of lanes, resurfacing, asphalt maintenance, curb, and sidewalk costs.

(Source: City of Greenville)

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