Oversight forces officials to add more than $3M to road project

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. - A much-needed road repair project in Rock Hill is now going to cost millions more than first thought. It's thanks to a mistake during the budget process.

The project is the re-do of West White Street, near downtown Rock Hill.

White Street is part of York County's long-running Pennies for Progress effort. On Monday night, the York County Council approved an additional $3.2 million to keep the project going.

York County's one-cent sales tax has already revamped part of White Street, giving it new pavement, brick-lined sidewalks, trees and decorative streetlights. However, Phil Leazer, who oversees the road improvement program, said the next phase of the project is critical.

"White Street is a very narrow, two-lane road. A very old roadway that's in terrible, terrible shape," Leazer said.

About a mile of West White Street runs through the oldest and once-most-traveled part of downtown Rock Hill. Today, much of it is a mess.

Aaron Howerton lives just a few feet away.

"It's one of the worst ones in this area, I know that. It's definitely got to be the worst," he said.

Leazer said an oversight during the budgeting process caused planners to leave out more than three million dollars in expected costs from the project.

"York County staff was working towards a $5.9 million construction and utility budget, and we just didn't include the right of way and design like we should have," he said. "It was just an oversight."

The project's actual total cost will be $9.1 million, Leazer said.

Leazer said most of the extra money to make up the difference will come from $15 million in savings from other projects, and left-over stimulus money.

The massive new Highway 21 bridge over the Catawba River was a $20 million project that required only $3 million from county Pennies for Progress funds. Federal money paid for the bulk of it, and that left savings to put toward other projects.

Now that county council has approved the extra money for the next phase of the White Street project, construction should begin in three weeks.

Leazer said of 23 projects slated for the second go-around of Pennies for Progress, which started in 2003, 15 have been completed.

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