SC House plans $20 million budget for Columbia Railroad upgrades


Columbia’s longstanding desire to clear traffic jams caused by trains running through town is in line for help from the General Assembly.

Among the requests set aside in the House budget is a $20 million request from State Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland, and State Rep. Seth Rose, D-Richland, to help to the improvement of railways in Colombia.

Local and state leaders have long sought a solution to the frequent traffic jams that occur when freight trains pass through the city, closing intersections the railroads share with motorists.

A current proposal to address the problem would see 15 level crossings along the Assembly Street and Huger Street corridors eliminated through a combination of elevated lanes above the road, raising a carriageway above the lanes and dropping a southern section of the CSX track between Blossom Street and Andrews Yard.

Its construction will require between 180 and 220 million dollars, according to estimates by the State Department of Transportation. The state and the city of Columbia are working together to apply for federal grants to cover the bulk of the work. Each of the subsidies envisaged requires a local counterpart of tens of millions of dollars.

The $20 million is only part of what is needed. Finlay hopes to get a total of $35 million from the state. The city and county are expected to contribute a combined $15 million, for a total of $50 million.

“We’re going to the county to talk to them,” said Finlay, who added that he hopes the county can use its sales tax revenue.

But he does not rule out asking for an additional assignment.

“If the economy stays reasonable, I’ll be back next year, using my begging strategy,” Finlay said. “We are asking for money from the state. We may be entitled to it as citizens, but it is not certain that it is ours. We should be kind and thankful when we get it.

The state’s $20 million helps acquire the right-of-way for the project, which could take years.

“But it gets us moving,” Finlay said.

Where the city and county’s $15 million will come from is yet to be determined.

Columbia Mayor Daniel Rickenmann said Richland County’s penny tax program could be a source of funding for the local game.

“The city is going to get this done one way or another,” he said, adding that support from state lawmakers will help position the city to receive money. federal.

“It’s essential to solving a 120-year-old problem that affects every community in the Midlands,” he said.

Richland County Council had not discussed the project as of May 3, Chairman Overture Walker said earlier this month.

“While reducing or eliminating rail lines that interfere with the free flow of traffic on major arteries has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for county residents, this potential project has yet to be considered. by the county council,” Walker said via email.

“The Board met earlier this year and established our funding priorities for the coming year. However, I intend to engage my county council colleagues on ways to increase county-city cooperation and whether the Rail Elimination Project can be an avatar of said cooperation.

Walker did not respond to a request for additional information before publication.

Other Midlands Postings

In total, more than $400 million in allocations have been proposed between the House and Senate budgets.

The House budget writers included $327 million in proposed allocations in their budget. The senate proposed $91 million for member projects. The Senate had less money to spend this year on appropriations because it wants to include a $1 billion refund to filers.

For the second year in a row, budget framers have included funds for a proposed Lexington County Convention Center. Last year, lawmakers included $1 million for planning a convention center. This year, State Representatives Chris Wooten and Paula Calhoon, Lexington County Republicans, received $5 million from the House budget to fund construction of the convention center.

“Our community is growing,” Calhoon said. “We need a place to go to hold exhibitions for our business community. We need places where professional fishing tournaments can be held. There is just a big need. Just anything that would be an economic stimulus.

The money is also being offered to go toward a facility for the Department of Social Services in Richland County.

Finlay got $300,000 to help pay rent for the agency’s Richland County office, which is set to move to a new location.

The current location on Two Notch Road is in very poor condition, Finlay said. The agency is in the process of moving to premises in the Columbia Mall.

“It will be adjacent to several other agencies that they deal with quite a bit,” Finlay said. “It will be more efficient.”

Both budget proposals include $1 million for the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens.

The $1 million for the Columbia Zoo would go to deferred maintenance projects, spokeswoman Susan O’Cain said in an email.

The money only covers a portion of the zoo’s $12 million in ongoing and needed projects, according to a document provided by O’Cain.

State Sense. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, and Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, and state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, asked for the money.

Senate assignments

State Senator Darrell Jackson, D-Richland

$200,000 for the Antioch Seniors Center

$30,000 for the Lower Richland Diamond Festival

$2 million for statewide African American history tourism and marketing

State Senator Mia McLeod, D-Richland

$300,000 for the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation

$500,000 for the beautification of the town of Arcadia

State Senator John Scott, D-Richland

$100,000 for Allen University

$50,000 for Collège Benoît

$250,000 for Voorhees University

$50,000 for Claflin University

$700,000 for SC Innovation and Information Institutes

State Senator Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington

$5 million repair and expansion of West Columbia Riverfront

State Senator Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington

$300,000 for the Courage Center

$500,000 for the Real Champions pilot program

$100,000 for SC’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Initiative

$50,000 for Camp David Summer Academic Enrichment

State Senator Dick Harpootlian, D-Richland

$25 million for the South Carolina Quantum Association – Quantum Computing System

House assignments

State Representative Jermaine Johnson, D-Richland

$50,000 for minors respecting the morals and principles of society

$150,000 for Tri-City Visionaries

$50,000 for the Harriet Barber House

State Representative Wendy Brawley, D-Richland

$100,000 for then Community Vision of Hope

State Representative Todd Rutherford, D-Richland

$100,000 for the Canton Auditorium

$100,000 for Elmwood Park Cemetery

$150,000 for the YMCA of Columbia

$350,000 for the State Museum

$1.5 million for the City of Columbia Greenway

$9 million for Williams Street Gateway infrastructure, sought with state Rep. Seth Rose, D-Richland

$1 million for the International Museum of African America, requested with Stavrinakis and State Rep. Deon Tedder, D-Charleston

State Representative Beth Bernstein, D-Richland

$500,000 for the beautification of the town of Arcadia

$250,000 for Friends of Harbison State Forest

$1 million for Finlay Park

$1 million for the Holocaust Council

$2 million for the Anne Frank Center

State Representative Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland

$250,000 for the Palmetto project

State Representative Paula Calhoon, R-Lexington

$8 million for the Lexington Greenway extension, requested with State Representative Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, State Representative Chris Wooten, R-Lexington and State Representative Chip Huggins, R -Lexington.

$1 million for the Lexington County Fire Department

State Representative Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland

$5 million for the Unumb Center – Disabled Residential and Occupational Center

State Representative Leon Howard, D-Richland

$100,000 for the Greater S. Farrow Road Community Development Foundation

$300,000 for the CR Neal Center

$300,000 for the Trinity Education Community and Conference Center

$150,000 for Dianne’s appeal

$300,000 for the Antioch Seniors Center

$600,000 for SC Business Advancement Center requested with Finlay.

State Representative Chip Huggins, R-Lexington

$40,000 for historic St. Michael’s Slave Cemetery

$150,000 for the Palmetto Foundation

$374,500 for the Brain Injury Foundation

$500,000 for the Charleston Animal Society, sought with Finlay, State Representative Joseph Danning, R-Berkeley, and State Representative Chris Murphy, R-Dorchester.

State Representative Chris Wooten, R-Lexington

$200,000 for the Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center

$301,461 for the Courage Center

This story was originally published May 13, 2022 11:29 a.m.

Joseph Bustos is a state government and politics reporter at The State. He graduated from Northwestern University and previously worked in Illinois covering government and politics. He won reporting awards in Illinois and Missouri. He moved to South Carolina in November 2019.
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