The City of Orangeburg will lease property to a bridge construction firm as a storage place for the firm’s construction equipment while it replaces the U.S. 301 bridge over the North Fork of the Edisto River.

City Council gave unanimous first-reading approval to enter into an agreement with Great Falls-based United Infrastructure Group Inc. to lease the 351 Langston St. property for the company to use as a lay-down yard or staging area for tools, equipment and vehicles.

The company will be working to replace the U.S. 301 bridge.

The city will lease the 1.78-acre property, located across from the Orangeburg Inn and Garden City Suites, to the company for $500 a month through May 2026, according to Sidney Evering, Orangeburg city administrator.

Evering said the company will maintain the property by placing gravel down as well as securing the property by putting up fencing. He said the city would not be held liable for protecting the site and equipment stored.

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Construction on the estimated $30,297,350 project began March 1, according to the United Infrastructure Group Inc’s website.

The project is expected to be complete by December 2025, according to the website.

In addition to the main bridge over the river, the swamp river bridge, or the overflow bridge, will also be replaced.

The project also calls for an acceleration lane from Russell Street onto U.S. Highway 301 to allow a free flow of traffic onto the new bridge, according to the SCDOT project website.

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Two lanes of traffic in both directions and pedestrian access will be maintained during construction.

According to the SCDOT, the purpose of the project is to eliminate structural deficiencies of the existing bridge and to improve traffic flow and safety with the addition of an acceleration lane from Russell Street (S.C. 33) onto U.S. 301 southbound.

The U.S. 301 river bridge was built in 1922 and the overflow bridge was built in 1954. Traffic on the bridges is expected to reach more than 30,000 vehicles a day by 2040.

The project been a long time coming.

Several construction proposals have been discussed over the years.

One was considered controversial because of its design and its impact on a marker and flag maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp 842. The small granite marker honors Confederate troops who died fighting against Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops.

Some members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans were concerned that the plan would eliminate its display. The project would have run a drainage pipe straight through the site.

The project as planned now will not impact the monument.

SCDOT redesigned the drainage to avoid impacting the monument and flag.

Over the years, the intersection has seen a number of rear-end collisions.

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About nine years ago, SCDOT released its initial proposal that would have shifted Russell Street to meet U.S. 301 at a 90-degree angle.

SCDOT also looked at other options such as closing off the lower portion of Russell Street and sending traffic onto Riverside Drive by the Orangeburg Veterans Memorial.

In November 2013, Orangeburg City Council put the brakes on the project, with some members questioning its value.

Council members asked the department to consider alternate fixes to improve the safety of the intersection.

The project was also halted because of the arrival of the Neighborhood Walmart store and encroachment permits.

In other matters, Orangeburg City Council gave first reading to amending the city’s current budget and the city’s organizational chart to provide for the creation of two positions: a special project manager and a risk and safety coordinator.

Evering said the risk and safety coordinator is provided for in this year’s budget.

“These are two positions I think will be highly beneficial to the city in helping us move forward,” Evering said.

Councilman Richard Stroman opposed first reading.

Council also gave unanimous first reading approval to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with South Carolina Local Revenue Services, allowing it to participate in one or more local revenue service programs.

Under the agreement, the SCLRS, which is a new division of the Municipal Association of South Carolina and replaces MASC’s collection department, would collect business telecommunications, insurance and broker insurance taxes on behalf of the city.

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Councilman Jerry Hannah asked if the agreement is a cost savings or more efficient for the city.

“It is certainly efficient,” Evering said. “For example, telecommunications companies instead of sending all of their taxes to different municipalities, they send it in one basic big check to, in this case, the Municipal Association and they redistribute the tax revenue accordingly to different municipalities based on those collections.”

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In other business:

  • Council gave third and final reading to the annexation of property located at 3397 Broughton St. into the city.

A developer has expressed interest in building a restaurant at the location despite the initial concerns of some of the neighboring property owners.

About 3 acres of the 14-acre property can be developed as the other portion is wetlands, according to city officials.

The property is owned by the city and was formerly a Department of Public Utilities substation. A gas main is also located on the property.

Stroman opposed the annexation of the property.

  • Council gave unanimous third and final reading to the transfer of property at Pinebrook Street to the Chestnut Ridge Homeowners Association Inc.

The .55-acre property, which is owned by the city, has become the entranceway to the 30- to 40-home Chestnut Ridge subdivision that’s being developed.

The property is near the intersection of Columbia Road and Chestnut Street.

  • Council unanimously approved the city’s 2023-24 fiscal year budget calendar. A budget workshop will be held July 10, the first reading will be given Aug. 1, second reading Aug. 15 and third and final reading Sept. 5. A public hearing will be held prior to second reading on Aug. 15.

The city’s fiscal year is Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

  • Council also unanimously approved the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities 2023-2024 fiscal year budget calendar. DPU’s budget calendar includes a June 29 budget workshop with City Council. The budget readings will follow the same schedule as the city’s budget.
  • Council unanimously approved a resolution recognizing April as “Fair Housing Month.” The city has made fair housing a priority.
  • Council read a proclamation naming April 4 as “Patrick Lee Milhouse Day” in the city.

Milhouse has led the way in litter pickup in the city by encouraging others to pick up trash in front of their homes. Milhouse also serves as the Palmetto Pride sponsor for Broughton Street and also cleans up other streets in the city.

Milhouse received a standing ovation for his service.

  • It was announced that Joe Keitt, former husband of Councilwoman Liz Zimmerman Keitt, had died. Keitt worked for the city police. Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler asked for prayers for the family.
  • Council recognized compassion as the community of character trait for the month of April. Residents were encouraged to exercise the trait in their daily lives.
  • Council entered into closed session for a performance evaluation of a municipal judge and a personnel matter involving the Department of Administration.

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