April 8 – A massive federal spending bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in March provided $10.5 million in funding for infrastructure improvements in Aiken.
Within this allocation, $8 million is for the Whiskey Road-Powderhouse Highway Connector Project, which would help ease traffic congestion in the busy Whiskey Road corridor.
The estimated construction cost is $37 million.
The city of Aiken has $7 million from the investment project’s sales tax IV revenue for the project, and “we also hope to get funding from the plutonium settlement money,” the official said. City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh. “But we can do phase one with federal government funding and local funding.”
The Powderhouse Road Connector – when built – would ease the strain on Whiskey Road by connecting East Gate Drive to Powderhouse Road.
The City of Aiken has for years considered ways to ease congestion on Whiskey Road, a thoroughfare connecting the downtown district to Southside shops, services and neighborhoods.
For example: The Whiskey Road Corridor Decongestion Project, as envisioned in 2018, would create a network of roads and other connections to direct cars and trucks away from the busiest parts of Whiskey Road. At the time, it was believed that such an infrastructure lattice would reduce congestion by 20% and make 450 acres of undeveloped properties accessible.
When constructed, the Powderhouse Road Connector would provide drivers with an alternative to Whiskey Road as well as an eastward link to Pine Log Road and beyond. Indeed, the new road would be a safety valve.
“This project is critical to providing a solution for the Whiskey Road Corridor Transportation Solution,” Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon said in a July 2021 Aiken Standard article.
Additionally, in the federal spending bill, the money allocated to Aiken was $2.5 million for a new sewer line on the Northside.
“We’re running a sewer line – a parallel sewer line, basically – from the Verenes Industrial Park, which you enter from US Highway 1 near Aiken Regional Airport, and it will go to the west and down (SC) Highway 19 south,” Bedenbaugh said.
About $5 million is needed for this project.
The city will also be able to use $2.5 million in sales taxes from Capital Projects III and IV to cover costs, Bedenbaugh said.
“In the long term, this (the sewer line) will help tremendously with development along this (Highway 19) corridor,” he added.
Both the sewer line and the Whiskey Road-Powderhouse Road connector are projects “that will greatly benefit our community,” Bedenbaugh said.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., presented funding requests for infrastructure projects in South Carolina to the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member.
Funding amounts included $152.6 million for three projects at Beaufort, including $121 million for the construction of an aircraft maintenance hangar at the Marine Corps Air Station.
Charleston received $75.1 million for three projects.
“These are some of the critical infrastructure projects across our state,” Graham said in a prepared statement. “I was proud to request and receive funds for these projects. I think it’s important that elected officials have a say in how taxpayers’ money is spent and not rely on bureaucrats to Washington to protect South Carolina’s interests.”
The $1.5 trillion spending bill Biden signed provided money to pay for federal operations through September and sent billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, where the fighting is escalating. continue after the invasion by Russia.