Whiskey corridor study to get funds

STAFF PHOTO BY DAN BROWN The ARTS subcommittee approved funding for the Whiskey Road Corridor study project. Bids will be accepted in early 2016.

The Augusta Regional Transportation Study unanimously approved funding to move forward with the Whiskey Road Corridor Study to begin accepting bids in early 2016.

The ARTS subcommittee approved the study during its Thursday afternoon meeting.

The 12-mile corridor study between South Boundary Avenue south to U.S. 278 in New Ellenton will carry a $350,000 price tag with $280,000 provided by federal planning level funds and $70,000, or 20 percent falling to Aiken County as a local match.

The City of Aiken agreed to pitch in on the local match, but as Gerald Jefferson, of the Aiken County Planning and Development Department said, it is too early in the study to know how much, if any, the City would be required to pay.

“I know in past projects the City of Aiken pitched in to help with the local match, but at this time we don’t know how much that would be, or if the City would be required to pitch in at all,” Jefferson said.

The study project will open for bidding in January 2016 and remain open until March, with the study contract awarded in either late June or early July 2016. The study will take 12 months to complete with an anticipated completion date of July 2017.

In the spring of 2018, Jefferson said they hope to draft a funding referendum to go on the November 2018 ballot for the project.

“This will give us time to get the funding referendum on the November 2018 ballot with construction hopefully beginning sometime in 2019,” he said.

In other business, the Subcommittee heard updates on its five active roads projects from the S.C. Dept. of Transportation. Updates were provided on Silver Bluff Road, East Buena Vista/Atomic Road, Belvedere/Clearwater Road and Hitchcock Parkway.

The Subcommittee also approved a request by the Town of New Ellenton to amend the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan to include intersection improvements in the White Pond and Whiskey roads area. The project cost is an estimated $1 million.

The November meeting was also Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh’s final meeting as Chairman of the ARTS Subcommittee. Cavanaugh is stepping down as Mayor effective Nov. 23. The Subcommittee thanked Cavanaugh for his years of service and hard work.

“We’ve had some wonderful people to work with over the years,” Cavanaugh said. “I’m just one. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Dan Brown is the government beat reporter for the Aiken Standard.