Ridgeway council deals with losses

Sidewalks reduced from 1.7 miles to 3,375 feet

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway Town Council gave the official green light Thursday night to a $500,000 sidewalk construction project that started out as 1.7 miles (8069 linear feet) of sidewalk throughout the town and ended up as only 3,375 linear feet of sidewalk along the north side of S.C. 34 – for the same $500,000 price.

As proposed by Councilwoman Angela Harrison two years ago, the sidewalks were designed to connect the town’s historic downtown with the new town park and playground, improve sidewalk access to 600 town residents and improve pedestrian safety along S.C 34.

Harrison initially said the new sidewalks would create a network of five miles of sidewalks along major thoroughfares and Ridgeway’s historic walking tour to promote transportation alternative tourism visits and economic growth for Ridgeway.

But she told Council members last week that the $500,000 will now cover only 3,375 linear feet of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant sidewalk beginning at South Means Street and continuing to Long Road.

The project was paid for with $11,400 from the Town as part of a $57,000 matching grant from Fairfield County, $43,000 from the Fairfield County Transportation Committee (CTC) and $400,000 from the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s (SCDOT) Transportation alternative Program (TAP).

The unanimous vote from council came after a lengthy discussion about the 65 percent increase in price over the two-year course of the project’s approval.

“The price has increased from $100 a square foot to $250 a square foot over the past two years because that is how long it has taken me to work the system to get this to happen,” Harrison stated.

Councilman Dan Martin questioned the validity of Harrison’s figures, saying that council received a proposal from her as recently as August that showed the town was getting 1.7 linear miles of sidewalk for $55 per linear foot.

Harrison responded that the change in the figures was because of information provided by SCDOT, but had no other explanation as to why the project was not finalized earlier at the lower cost. Harrison missed four council meetings in 2018, between May and November.

“DOT is the one who filled out the application. When those figures changed, I can’t do anything about that and when I looked at the project and looked at what the management fees are at this point those figures have changed,” Harrison said.

She said further discussion on the prices would need to be directed to SCDOT.

Other discussions focused on the responsibility for future maintenance of the sidewalks upon their completion. According to town documents, the Town of Ridgeway must assume all responsibility for maintenance for the life of the sidewalks.  More than half the sidewalks being constructed are outside the town limits, making the city legally responsible for a county sidewalk.

Councilman Donald Prioleau likened the council’s discussion over the project’s details to “beating a dead horse” and urged the council towards its ultimate approval.

“A person was killed on 34. Now, the city will take care of what is within town limits. All we have to do is go back to the county and let them adjust it (the contract). I’m for this 300 percent,” Prioleau stated.

Prioleau made his motion immediately after his statements, and the vote was taken without further debate.

The council also picked up discussions on a water line upgrade for the south end of Highway 34 where residents do not have access to fire hydrants. Harrison volunteered to spearhead research on the project with the town’s public works department and is expected to bring more information to council at a future meeting.