Originally created 08/20/05

Road might be scrapped



AIKEN - Members of a city-county advisory committee might have to scrap the decision they made about a connector road between Whiskey and Silver Bluff roads and consider a paving project instead.

More than a year ago, the committee of three county council members, three city council members and three residents met to select a route for the road. The committee recommended the connector road use part of Chime Bell Church Road, Anderson Pond Road and part of the property through the Myrtle Anderson tract.

Since that time, however, a new twist in the area's land use could alter the recommendation. The population density will be much less than the committee members originally thought.

When the committee made its recommendation in March, the members thought that about 1,200 acres of Anderson Pond Road property could be used for residential development, said Dick Smith, an Aiken city councilman who was part of the ad hoc group.

Instead, the bottom third of Anderson Pond Road, and another tract of land on the thoroughfare, will be used for horse farms of at least five acres, he said.

"Now that the density is so much less, I think we need to get the committee back together," said Aiken City Councilman Pat Cunning, who also was a member of the group.

He said preliminary estimates put the cost of a connector road at $17 million.

"Do we need to spend money on right-of-way issues that may or may not be needed?" he asked.

Six-year Anderson Pond Road resident Monnica Seigler said she and her husband would have to yield little of their land for the project. She would welcome an asphalt road.

"I would love it because it wouldn't tear up my car as bad," she said. "And it wouldn't water my yard as bad."

Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh agreed, but for entirely different reasons.

"It would take some pressure off of having to have another major road ... because who knows where the money's coming from," he said.

He said construction of a new road would require special funding because the yearly allotment from the Augusta Region Transportation Study would not cover the costs.

In addition, the one-cent capital projects sales tax that was passed in 2000 earmarked more than $1.2 million to pave 4.25 miles of Anderson Pond Road between Silver Bluff and Chime Bell Church roads.

"This would be a quicker way to do it," Mr. Cavanaugh said. "We wouldn't need a $17 million road if we fixed up Anderson Pond Road."

The sales tax funding was exhausted before the Anderson Pond Road project got under way, Aiken County Councilman Scott Singer said, but the county plans to seek a bond issue to pave the remainder of the roads approved in the referendum.

In addition, he said, the county needs to acquire an easement along Anderson Pond Road. He also said the road would have to be straightened and graded before it could be paved.

Mr. Singer said the county council needs to review the committee's recommendation, too.

"I think what will happen is you'll see a combination of those two routes," he said. "The existing Anderson Pond Road would not be conducive to a connector road or any road that could handle any volume of traffic."

Ed Evans, the city Planning Department director, said about 8,000 cars per day would use a connector between Whiskey and Silver Bluff roads by 2025.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.