Orangeburg will receive a $22.8 million federal grant to build a pedestrian bridge and help redevelop Railroad Corner.

The grant was announced Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who appeared in Orangeburg with Congressman James Clyburn.

“We often see how assets having to do with transportation serve to divide. We see a very stark example of that right at the site of this project where thoroughfares and a railway divide a campus community from the opportunities that are on the other side of the tracks,” Buttigieg said during a press conference at the Orangeburg County Library and Conference Center.

Federal taxpayer dollars will now be “used to connect rather than to divide, to enhance rather than to diminish, to include rather than exclude.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, center, is joined by Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler and City Administrator Sidney Evering, f…

The $22,755,600 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity funds will be used to build a pedestrian bridge across Magnolia Street and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.

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It will be designed to connect the campuses of South Carolina State University and Claflin University to the downtown Orangeburg business district.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made a visit to Orangeburg to announce $22.8 million for a pedestrian bridge and improvements …

Prior to the press conference, Buttigieg was able to visit the site of the project and learned more about the history of the corner and the universities.

In addition to the bridge, the project will include a new public transit stop, charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and bicycles and a public parking garage.

The money is administered through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant will cover the entire cost of the project with no local match needed.

Construction is projected to begin in 2024.

Orangeburg City Administrator Sidney Evering said the bridge will be “located in a position that will best serve the universities and obviously to get students safely across.”

“We have to speak with Norfolk Southern, the railroad,” Evering said. “They are going to be a major part helping to determine where best to locate it. There are all kinds of federal regulations as it relates to that. That still has yet to be determined.”

Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said, “This is such an exciting day for the city of Orangeburg.

“Each day we get closer to making our dream of developing Railroad Corner a reality and today marks another special benchmark in this process.”

Clyburn, the U.S. House Assistant Democratic leader, recalled hanging out at The College Soda Shop on Railroad Corner.

“This community and this corner is very, very important to me,” Clyburn said.

Butler approached Clyburn several years ago and said improving Railroad Corner was ‘”the most important thing he could do for this community.”

Despite having several interstates, two national railroads and three universities, Orangeburg has been listed as a persistent poverty community where 20 percent of the population has been impoverished for 30 years.

“The infrastructure to do what needs to be done is here but we have not developed it,” Clyburn said.

The project was welcomed by the presidents of S.C. State and Claflin.

“At South Carolina State, like any other university, safety is a primary concern,” President Alexander Conyers said. “When you think about South Carolina and the high pedestrian death rate, this bridge will serve to mitigate much of it.”

Claflin President Dr. Dwaun Warmack said, “This is transformational in many ways.”

Walking to McDonald’s or Dollar General can be hazardous. A bridge will provide safe access to the area.

Claflin is also planning to place a student housing complex at the corner that will house over 100 students. The bridge will provide easy access to the apartments.

The federally funded project is a part of a bigger plan for the corner.

The plans for the corner include adding four-story, mixed-use development with ground-floor commercial and upper-story residential.

The project will preserve the former State Theater building as a cultural space and potential museum, extend multifamily units along Treadwell Street and redevelop the former gas station into new commercial space.

Plans include the creation of walk-through opportunities with urban and plaza spaces combined with retail. Additional parking will be added on Treadwell Street.

Orangeburg University District Partners has been chosen to develop the property.

Evering said the city is finalizing the development agreements.

“Once that is done, the financing will get in place and we are ready to get started probably by this time next year,” he said.

Evering thanked those who helped with the grant funding application.

“We are working,” Evering said. “We have planted seeds, it is germinating under the ground. It is going to pop up. It is just a matter of time for the harvest.”

The DOT project is among the $2.2 billion set aside from the RAISE grant program to help fund 162 infrastructure projects announced as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America agenda.

Buttigieg said the funding was “community driven.”

“This is a great example of a vision the community has had for some time that would have been a reality but for the funding,” Buttigieg said. “Now we are able to bring in the funding.”

Buttigieg said 2021’s federal infrastructure bill was bipartisan because “it is good policy.”

“Partisan politics get in the way sometimes,” Buttigieg said. “We are proud of the fact that this is a bipartisan bill that a number of Republicans were willing to come across and work with Democrats and work with the president to get this done. A good project is a good project.”

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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