Design work underway on stormwater drainage for Whiskey Road corridor improvement project

May 11, 2019

In August 2017, Aiken County Council received the results of the Whiskey Road Corridor Study.

Prepared by a consultant, Stantec, it included recommendations for how to make the busy thoroughfare safer and more attractive.

The study also offered strategies to resolve stormwater drainage issues and the estimated costs for all the work.

Ground still hasn’t been broken yet on the major construction project because more preparations need to be made.

The first priority is the stormwater drainage.

“You have to take care of that before you do anything else,” said County Administrator Clay Killian. “You have to figure out where you are going to put the water that is causing the flooding.”

The Mount Pleasant office of JMT (Johnson, Mimiran & Thompson), a civil engineering firm, is in the process of preparing a concept plan, which “generally is a broad view of where everything needs to go,” Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian said, and a plan that provides the actual design of the drainage system that will be built.

They are scheduled to be completed around July of next year.

“The drainage design is about 40 percent complete, and the overall concept plan is about 25 percent complete, according to the last report that I got,” Killian said.

He described being done by JMT as “a very big” effort.

“They have to do surveys, and they have to get permission to enter people’s properties and that kind of thing so they can do the design.”

The county is using unspent money from a previous capital project sales tax to pay JMT’s $522,768 fee.

Stantac estimated the cost to make the stormwater drainage improvements would be $21,230,000 to $31,030,000, depending on which package of its suggestions was selected.

The estimate for implementing the traffic safety – and beautification-related recommendations along the 11.7-mile stretch from South Boundary Avenue in Aiken to U.S. Route 278 in New Ellenton, was $15,340,000.

Whiskey Road, or South Carolina Highway 19, is known as Main Street in New Ellenton.

In the search for funding, the City of Aiken wants to include the proposed Whiskey Road-Powderhouse Road connector in the Whiskey Road Corridor project, which would significantly boost the overall price.

The county has $9 million allocated for Whiskey Road upgrades on its list of projects it will fund with Capital Project Sales Tax IV revenue, and the City of Aiken has $8 million on its list.

Voters approved Sales Tax IV last November.

The search for more money is underway.

“We are trying to keep it in front of anybody at the state or federal level that can help us, mostly federal – the senators’ offices, Congressman Joe Wilson’s office, anybody who will listen to us,” Killian said. “We’re looking to see what all possibly is out there, if there are any grants we could use. We’re also keeping an eye on President Trump’s infrastructure plan.

“The State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) is still being talked about,” Killian continued. “The City of Aiken is taking the lead on the SIB application because they want the the Whiskey-Powderhouse connector included in that.”