A meeting was held Thursday evening at the Powdersville Library to get input from the public on how they would like to see the funds spent.
Attendees seemed to back rehabilitating the old Salda Bridge and creating sidewalks on SC 81.
Anderson County Transportation Director Holt Hopkins said previous community input meetings have borne fruit for Powdersville.
“You got your traffic light at Roe Road,” Hopkins said. “If you had asked me a year ago if you would have that, I would have told you ‘No way.’ But it happened, and it happened as a result of these meetings.”
The four-way stop at Hood and Roe Road is also the result of such meetings, he said.
“Those little minor things help a lot to improve the safety of these intersections,” Hopkins said.
The funds must be used for enhancement projects, not construction, Hopkins said.
Anderson County Principal Engineer Judy Shelato said state officials will give priority to enhancement projects that address three areas: landscaping and beautification, bike and pedestrian facilities,and preservation of rail corridors.
Since Powdersville has no abandoned rail corridor, the projects should focus on beautification and bike and pedestrian facilities, Shelato said.
“(State officials) want to see it taking people with no car from Point A to Point B,” Hopkins said.
County staff presented attendees with a list of potential projects and also asked for ideas from the group.
Each project was estimated to cost around $230,000 - $240,000. County matching funds will also be needed to secure the GPATS funding.
“We can’t do them all,” Hopkins said.
He estimated the county match could total about $60,000.
One idea was beautifying the I-85 interchange. Funding could pay for the design plan and installation of lighting and placement of public art.
But Shelato said sprucing up the interchange could be fund through a separate program “Adopt an Interchange.”
“It would be a separate project,” Shelato said. “We can seek up to $400,000 for this per year.”
The “Adopt” program, which requires a 20 percent local match, comes from a different funding source than the enhancement project funding.
That program has a time limit.
“They desire you to start within six months and be done within two years,” Shelato said.
The “Adopt an Interchange” funding requests would go through a statewide competition, she said.
“We’d be competing with every other pretty interchange in the state to get money for this,” Shelato said.
Applying for that program would allow officials to use the $230,000 in enhancement funds for another project.
Another ideas proposed by county staff include a trail/sidewalk on Ragsdale Road near the Powdersville schools, building sidewalks connecting apartments on Cely Lane to nearby shops and building a trail from Powdersville High to Roe Road.
Creating sidewalks on SC 81 would not be a difficult proposition, Shelato said.
“This is the most simple, ready-to-go alternative,” Shelato said, of placing sidewalks on SC 81. “DOT’s right of way is there, the accesses into businesses are already set up ADA-compliance.
Sidewalks could begin at Siloam Road and travel down the highway to SC 153.
“This would be a very easily accomplished project,” Shelato said. “We might even be able to go further down 81. It just all depends.”
Resident Jane Jones said SC 81 “needs some beautification.”
“If I had just to do one project, I would spend it right there and get that area looking better, because that’s Powdersville,” Jones said. “Whatever money we’ve got should be spent right there – and then branch out from there.”
The project could include plantings and rest benches, Shelato said.
“There always needs to be a little bit of refuge for folks,” she said.
Jennifer Mustar said that, with Walmart and other development slated to come to the area in the future, now is not the time to be making too many changes to SC 81, as future development could undo those changes.
Another project would give new life to the bridge over the Saluda River on Old Anderson Road.
That project would entail connecting the bridge to Dolly Cooper Park, and rehabilitating the bridge so that it could hold pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
“It looks really terrible,” Shelato said, of the bridge’s current condition.
Other funds could be sought to “build upon the concept” in the coming years, Shelato said.
Anderson County owns the bridge, as Greenville County gave up its ownership of the bridge r
Rep. Joshua Putnam asked if the funds could be used to create a looping trail within Dolly Cooper Park.
Hopkins said the county has some PRT funding from the state and is researching creating trails very similar to what Putnam proposed.
County Councilman Ken Waters said the recreation department is working on grant funding to create walking trails at the park.
Towers Rice said Powdersville should look at capitalizing on its natural resources, like Greenville has done with the Camperdown Bridge and Swamp Rabbit Trail and Charleston has done with the Cooper River.
“They’ve taken a natural resource there and really capitalized on it,” Rice said. “They’ve taken something there and really made something greater. What we have is the Saluda River and possibly the old steel bridge down there. Shouldn’t we really try to think outside the box with the natural resources that we have that are unique to this area?”
Putnam asked if funds were available to create a sidewalk to Dolly Cooper Park as part of the Saluda Bridge project.
Waters said recreation funds could create sidewalks in the park.
“We would coordinate the two plans to try and tie them together,” Hopkins said.
Shelato said the bridge could be made “a safe place for families and the kids to come to.”
“Right now, if I had my child, I’d tell them ‘Stay away from the bridge,” she said. “If you could tie Old Anderson Road into a sidewalk connection with 81, then you’ve got a real good connection for a lot of folks to get down to the river area.”
Hopkins said the bridge would have to be strengthened. He said staff believed the project could be realized with the funds available.
Mustar said “a lot of different entities” are working on Dolly Cooper park, but those efforts, and enhancement project efforts, should all be cohesive.
Residents voted on which projects should be given priority for enhancement funds. The SC 81 sidewalk/beautification project and the Saluda Bridge project received the highest number of votes from the meeting’s attendees.
Staff asked for the group to remain both patient and excited about the projects.
“We’re just starting out here, trying to build the community,” Shelato said. “The community excitement itself is what sells the project.”
Resident Kirt Borcherts said he often hears people complaining that Powdersville doesn’t have its own identity.
“As we continue to develop, Walmart’s coming, we start to look like any other bedroom community,” he said. “But to do something that enhances one of the main roads a little bit, to kind of give us that identity to say ‘We are the community of Powderville, this is what we doing.’”