Richland County working to improve roads

Richland County taxpayers have contributed almost 25 million dollars since May of 2013.

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WACH) - Richland County taxpayers have contributed almost 25 million dollars since May of 2013.

The tax is going towards the Transportation Penny Sales tax used for various improvements such as road paving, repairing, and widening projects around the county.

However, construction hasn't started yet due to a minor glitch during the process.

â??We had five teams that submitted for the program development contract,â?? said Rob Perry, Transportation Penny Director. â??We went through and we shortlisted three. Council decided they wanted to interview all five and made a selection and one of the firms that were not selected filed a protest.â??

The protest required specialized attorneys to look into council's decision, and once the problem was found, council members realized they made a mistake.

â??The county had put out what is technically called a request for proposals,â?? said Councilman Jim Manning. â??It should have been a request for qualifications.â??

To avoid further delays like legal issues, Manning says Richland County council voted to start the process over again to ensure everything is done correctly.

â??Even though you're not seeing the signs up yet, we're doing everything we can to moving to contact to get everything to construction, so that people can see the benefits of this penny,â?? added Perry.

Those jobs include but aren't limited to dirt to road pavements, and resurfacing projects.

But not all of the penny promises have been put on hold. Of the 25 million dollars collected, 7 million has already gone to improving the area's long struggling bus system.

â??We're certainly making progress. The biggest bit of progress is with regards to the bus system, now being referred to as the Comet,â?? said Manning.

Manning says with funds from the sales tax, Saturday and Sunday bus services have returned, along with routes that were cut a few years ago.

The first project funded by the Transportation Penny Sales Tax program will take place Thursday, May 8th, 2014, at 11:30 am. The ground breaking ceremony will take place on Mt. Pilgrim Church Road.

The penny sales tax is a 22 year program looking to generate 1.12 billion dollars. If that amount is reached sooner, taxpayers will no longer have to pay the extra penny.