Officials: Dirt road paving projects millions under budget

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Officials in Horry County say the economy is playing to the advantage of a series of road paving projects aimed at making over 80 miles of county dirt roads.

The multi-million dollar road pavement projects, separated into four phases, are funded by Horry County's "Riding on a Penny" sales tax that began in May 2007. The tax aims at generating an estimated $425 million for road projects across the county, such as the Aynor Overpass and widening of Glenns Bay Road.

Intertwined between 15 major infrastructure projects is the pavement of 80 miles of dirt roads scattered across Horry County. Horry County Engineer Steve Gosnell says the county's road system contains more than 700 miles of dirt roads.

This month, Gosnell says construction crews are wrapping up work on the second phase of pavement, which includes roads like John Doctor Road and Cain Wilson Road in Conway.

Expected to cost more than $45.3 million, Gosnell says the first two rounds of pavement projects came in an estimated $23 million under budget. Gosnell says an uneasy economy, paired with low construction costs, contributed to the savings.

Gosnell says county road crews hope to begin the third phase of road pavement projects in the spring or early summer. When right-of-ways and road designs are ironed out, Gosnell expects the third phase of road construction to take an estimated one and a half years.

Horry County's one-cent capital sales tax will be collected until 2014, according to officials. Since the county began collecting the tax in May 2007, county spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier says the county is $11,264,022 above what was budgeted for the first three years.

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