County council approves more money for Fort Mill bypass

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comJune 4, 2014 

— The Fort Mill Southern Bypass is getting more expensive, though county leaders hope to recoup some of the added costs approved Monday.

York County Council approved close to $350,000 in new money for the bypass at its June 2 meeting. The Pennies for Progress project has about $3.6 million in its construction account to cover the allocation.

Much of the newly approved money is a $61,493 increase in compensation to Norfolk Southern Railway. In March 2011, Council approved $246,107 for flagging services, engineering and accounting to replace a rail crossing at Brickyard Road with a 476-foot bridge over the rail line, Brickyard and Banks Street.

Last July, Council approved another $7,300 for additional flagging services.

The original contract was for 245 days. Now the railway says final cost will be $314,900 for an estimated 310 days. The increases, according to county staff’s recommendation to Council, “are a direct result” of the number of days spent on the project.

“The majority of these additional 65 working days being charged by Norfolk Southern is a direct result of a survey error on the part of the bridge contractor,” reads the recommendation.

On Oct. 3, 2012, the bridge contractor found a surveying error resulting in two of four bridge supports being built a foot too high. The contractor suspended work until a plan was in place to tear down the supports and rebuild them at the correct height.

“This surveying error added 41 working days to the project,” according to the recommendation.

The county “plans to seek reimbursement” for the cost increase. The additional 24 days of delay “were the result of various rain delays.”

Council also approved $5,229.70 more June 2 for York Electric Cooperative to relocate facilities with bypass construction and the widening of Banks Road. In June 2010, Council approved $38,627.03 based on cost estimates then. Labor and material cost increases since led to the more than $5,000 difference. The relocation is now complete.

A similar increase came for Duke Energy. Actual costs came in $2,134.43 higher than the 2012 estimate of $167,195.98 to relocate utilities along Whites, Holbrook and Doby’s Bridge roads.

Not all spending June 2 was overruns. Council approved a new agreement with Duke for $280,517.33 to relocate utilities along Williams, Haire and Legion roads, and S.C. 160.

The overruns were for parts of the bypass with anticipated openings this spring or earlier. The new Duke contract is for the final stretch of bypass to open in summer 2015.

While the bypass project has plenty of cash in its account to pay for the overruns, additional costs do have an impact. Pennies leaders say roads coming in under budget help speed up other projects, as money trickles down the priority list.

Of the 40 projects from 2003 Pennies campaign, 20 are complete. All 25 projects from the 2011 referendum have design contracts, but no construction contracts have been awarded.

Phases one and two of the Fort Mill Southern Bypass made the 2003 Pennies program, with an estimated cost of more than $26.5 million each.

Pennies for Progress allows county voters to pay a cent sales tax for road construction projects. The first vote came in 1997, with follow-ups in 2003 and 2011.

“The Pennies program has been a tremendous change in this county,” said Councilman Joe Cox. “The staff works diligently. Their audit came back with flying colors.”

Cox used the recent bypass approvals to call for something similar to fund road maintenance, which Pennies can’t cover.

“I hope that we will ratify a referendum in November to allow voters to vote on a Pennies program for maintenance, whether the state has moved it forward or not,” he said.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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