March 17, 2021
Sam Crouch, Chair, Roger Timpson, Vice-chair, Frank Davis, Willie Bright, and Jerry Bass are a few of the many Edgefield County residents that serve as volunteers on important boards and committees. These volunteers make decisions that impact our County’s residents’ lives. Crouch and the others serve on the Edgefield County Transportation Committee. During the interview, Crouch explained the roles the volunteers play and the structure of the committee.
Members of the Edgefield County Transportation Committee are appointed by the County’s Legislative Delegation. Each of South Carolina’s forty-six counties has a transportation committee. The State’s County Transportation Committees were established by State law. Each county’s Transportation Committee is responsible for prioritizing the road work to be done on the roads in their county and the committee acts as the fiscal agent for spending the funding a county receives from the State.
Crouch explained that the funding Edgefield County receives is from the State’s gas taxes. Crouch said the state uses a formula to determine the amount of funding the county receives. The formula is based on three ratios. First, the ratio of land in Edgefield County as compared to the state. Second, the ratio of the County’s population as compared to the state, and third, the ratio of rural miles of road as compared to the other counties in the state.
Crouch noted that in previous years Edgefield County received around $800,000 a year from the State’s gas tax. Now that the legislature passed the new gas tax, Edgefield County is projected to receive 1.25 million dollars this year. “They phased in the gas tax increases to allow contractors to step up their ability to do the work with equipment and manpower,” explained Crouch. Crouch noted the road construction companies were not going to invest in their businesses until they saw there was a stable funding increase from the State.
Crouch said that once Edgefield County receives funding, his committee takes input from the South Carolina DOT, the Edgefield County Government, and an engineering firm to determine what work should be done. He said the State mandates that 27% of the funding be used for State roads. Crouch noted that typically his committee spends 40% on State roads and 60% on the County’s close to 200 miles of roads. Crouch said the minimum the State mandates for State roads has to be spent each year.
Crouch thinks the roads in Edgefield County are being improved because the General Assembly finally did the right thing and passed a gas tax increase. Crouch said the funding for the State roads is spread evenly over all the County’s State roads. He noted the percentage of funds for the County’s roads is mostly spent in the Merriwether end of the county where the majority of the County’s fifty miles of paved road are located in subdivisions.
There are close to 150 miles of dirt roads owned by the County. Crouch said that the committee has stopped paving the county’s dirt roads in order to focus on maintaining the County’s paved roads already in the inventory.
The majority of the paved roads owned and maintained by the County are in subdivisions. Crouch explained that when a subdivision is completed, the developer turns the ownership and maintenance of those roads over to the County. The roads have to meet the engineering standards and the developers provide a one-year bond to insure their work.
Crouch shared that the committee is constantly prioritizing the work to be done on the County’s roads. He said when the road washed out at Mill Creek and the bridge was damaged on Scenic Drive, those two projects cost close to three quarters of a million dollars which was most of the Committee’s budget for the year.
Crouch bragged on the County’s legislative delegation and said the work at Mill Creek was done in sixty days which was about a third of the time it normally would have taken. “The delegation stepped up to the plate and made sure those residents got the access back quickly,” noted Crouch .
Crouch said road work was an expensive and painfully slow process. “It’s like watching grass grow,” chuckled Crouch. He said the Committee paid the State for some work on Center Springs Road three years ago and they are still waiting on a contractor.
Crouch made the point that the Edgefield County Transportation Committee has no employees, but works closely with State and County employees to prioritize the maintenance that is completed.