Tega Cay connector road gets funding boost

A surplus of cash from the Hwy. 21 bridge project from I-77 to Sutton Road is headed to Tega Cay, where it’ll cover a much more expensive Tega Cay/Gold Hill Connector than initially planned.

Last week, York County Council rerouted $4 million in surplus funds from the bridge project to the connector. Council also committed more than $830,000 of that money to engineering and design services. That total brings the design cost to about 12 times what was planned and approved in 2004.

The connector road was the sixth highest priority on the 2003 Pennies for Progress list of road improvements countywide. The plan was to relieve congestion at Hwy. 160 West and Gold Hill Road by connecting the two roads with an alternate route. The county picked Campco Engineering in 2004 to design the project for a little more than $105,000. Hubert Graham Parkway would be extended 3,000 feet north from a cul-de-sac to Gold Hill.

Then came Stonecrest, and buildout of the Lakeshore and Palmetto Plantation subdivisions. That growth “severely limited” the selected route, according to information provided to Council by county staff. The design had to be changed and the road lengthened, including what was there already. Plans for a four-way intersection turned into a recommended roundabout design at Hubert Graham and Stonecrest Boulevard.

A 2010 amendment to the design contract added almost $317,000. The amendment last week brings the total to $1.25 million.

Councilman Chad Williams (D-Dist. 7) said the Pennies group took a long look at the project and others like it coming back for more funding, but believes the moves are warranted.

“A lot of these changes are significant, but we feel comfortable that they’re necessary,” he said.

Councilman Joe Cox (R-Dist. 3) said he will “wholeheartedly endorse” the Pennies program. Hearing that the recent bridge project finished with more than $13 million coming to the program from what was budgeted, helps when deciding to spend more money elsewhere, such as the Tega Cay connector.

“The amount of some of these obviously are high,” Cox said of requests for more funding. “We usually don’t deal with less than $100,000 on most of our motions. What I was worried about is what happens to the [improvement projects] that are next on the list, that are lower down on the list.”

The city is working with the county on the connector. In December Tega Cay City Council passed a resolution supporting the project. The city committed to obtaining 25 percent of the right-of-way for the project through the developer, at no cost to the county.

Currently the Pennies program has more than $3.43 million budgeted toward the connector. The total cost of the road is now projected at $7.43 million, hence the $4 million transfer.

The bridge project came in so far under budget due to a partnership with the state Department of Transportation. SCDOT received American Recovery and Reinvestment and state bridge replacement funding covering most of the $16.3 million project.

Of the $13 million saved on the bridge project, what doesn’t go to the connector will make its way down the line of prioritized Pennies projects.

By John Marks, Staff Reporter with Fort Mill Times