A road extension expected to jump-start development behind Columbia County's Greenbrier High School is on indefinite hold due to skyrocketing right-of-way costs and complex environmental and wetlands issues.
William Few Parkway, which crosses Washington Road and dead-ends near the Board of Education's new school complex, eventually will cross thousands of undeveloped acres and intersect with Hardy McManus Road.
But county officials say it could be a decade or more before the project can open the vast, undeveloped areas for intensive development.
"We have a major problem in that we will have to have an environmental permit to cross Euchee Creek," said Pre Construction Engineer Ronnie Hutto of the Columbia County Roads & Bridges Department.
The bridge needed to cross the creek could have a $500,000 to $1 million price-tag -- costs which must be borne by county taxpayers, he said.
The parkway is expected to herald an assortment of development. More than 1,000 acres owned by Canal Industries, headquartered in Conway, S.C., already has been rezoned for uses ranging from commercial development to various residential complexes.
Nearby, another large parcel at Hardy-McManus and Washington roads also has been rezoned in the past year for a similar combination of developmental uses. That parcel is owned by the Polatty family.
Mr. Hutto said right-of-way costs will be the largest expense. "It is a long-range project and it will be based on acquiring right-of-way."
In addition to buying right-of-way, the county must underwrite design and constriction of the extension project. The Georgia Department of Transportation has agreed to contribute $1 million toward the $3.1 million project.
Columbia County Planning and Zoning Director Kendal Jones said the county has already planned for development in the area.
"The infrastructure is there," she said, adding water and sewer lines have already been extended to the area. "The growth was anticipated for that corridor."
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