South Carolina's 901 Widening Project

By Christina Fisher | September 28, 2010

U.S. Group, Inc., Columbia, SC, is eight months into a project to widen a 4-mile section of S.C. 901 in York County, SC. Part of York County's “Pennies for Progress” road-building program, this $13.8-million project will create a regional bypass around Rock Hill and connect central York County directly to Interstate 77.

The S.C. 901 project has been divided into two major phases that include the following improvements and changes:

  • Widen S.C. Route 901 to four lanes between Albright Road and I-77, with a center turning lane;
  • Widen and improve an existing bridge and box culvert;
  • Widen Saluda Street to four lanes from Heckle Boulevard to Albright Road;
  • Realign Saluda Street to end at the S.C. 901/Albright Road traffic light to eliminate the hazardous fork at the end of Saluda Street;
  • Create over a dozen marked left-turn lanes and two U-turn locations along the 901 project length; create two new left-turn lanes on Albright Road; and realign and create center left-turn lanes on 12 side roads along the project's length.

Work on the project began in March 2008 with clearing, storm drain installation, and installation of new telephone line innerducts.

Clearing and grading have been challenging due to the unsuitable material on site and finding borrow material to meet SCDOT specs, which is a minimum of 100 pounds per cubic foot. U.S. Group is self-performing the grading while Barfield Grading out of Fort Mill, SC, is hauling the borrow material from 11 miles away.

“One of the challenges we've had is the amount of rock, which are really boulders,” says Haskel Sexton II, Operations manager with U.S. Group. “We've had to use a Cat excavator with a hydraulic hammer attachment to get a lot of rock out of the way. We've also encountered a lot of unsuitable soil on the site that has had to be removed and replaced with borrow material.”

In all, U.S. Group will be moving 35,000 cubic yards of onsite balance material and bringing in approximately 120,000 cubic yards of borrow material.

There are two major phases on the project. Phase 1 is the gateway section of the project, which is the last mile of the project closest to Rock Hill. This section has an early completion date of July 2009.

The second phase of the project also under way involves the widening of the remainder of S.C. 901 to I-77. Currently the two new lanes on the south side of the project are under construction, as is the widening of a bridge and the extension of a box culvert. Once the lanes on the south side are completed, traffic will switch to the new construction while the existing roadway is reconstructed.

The entire project is scheduled for completion in January 2010.

Editor's note: Additional material provided by U.S. Group and York County. For more information visit and


Pennies For Progress

Pennies for Progress is the name of the York County Capital Projects Sales and Use Tax Programs. The Pennies for Progress Programs were initiated by York County to provide the citizens with a safer and more efficient roadway system. The projects were chosen by a Sales Tax Commission that represented the citizens of York County and then were approved by the voters in York County, the first county in South Carolina to pass this type of sales tax to improve the road system. A benefit of this tax is 99 cents of every sales tax dollar raised in York County stays in York County. York County is currently working on two sales tax programs to improve the road system in the county.

The first Capital Projects Sales and Use Tax Program, also known as the 1997 Pennies for Progress Program, consisted of 14 projects and was approved by the voters in 1997. The program's original budget of $99.255 million was funded by the sales tax. The county has been able to acquire additional funds to finish these projects, which have cost more than the original estimates due to rising costs of construction. These additional funds included state and federal funds that would not have been available to York County without the 1997 Pennies for Progress Program.

Because of the vision of the County Council, York County has also been able to leverage additional millions from the State Infrastructure Bank for other projects that benefit York County citizens including widening I-77, the improvements to the Hwy 161/US 21 Interchange, the SC 5 Extension in Cherokee County, and Dave Lyle Boulevard. These improvements help facilitate movement from I-85 to I-77 through York County.

The second Capital Sales and Use Tax Program was passed by the voters by 73 percent in 2003. The program, also known as the 2003 Pennies for Progress Program, consists of 25 projects with a budget of $173 million. The tax collections for the 2003 Program began after the maximum amount for the 1997 Program was collected. The 2003 Program was a continuation of the 1997 Program, not an addition to the 1997 Program.

The tax can be collected until the amount listed in the referendum is reached, or at the end of seven years, whichever comes first. There are two trigger points that will result in the sales tax ending: The referendum states a total project cost or a maximum duration of seven years. Once the project cost as stated in the referendum is reached, it will trigger the ending of the tax, even if it takes less than seven years. The second trigger is the time – the tax collections must end at the end of seven years, regardless of whether or not the project cost as stated in the referendum has been received.

Should enough money be collected to complete the projects listed before the end of the seven-year period, the Capital Projects Sales Tax will end. In any case, the Capital Projects Sales Tax will end in seven years. The projects listed are in priority order. Any work not funded at the end of seven years would not be done unless additional non-sales tax revenues could be identified.

Anyone purchasing goods in York County will help fund the road work. A significant portion of the money will come from people who live outside York County. People from other places who visit, work or purchase goods and services in York County will help to contribute money to roads through the tax. Had neither of the Pennies for Progress Programs been passed, many of these projects would probably not have been completed in the foreseeable future.

S.C. 901 Project Up Close:

South Carolina DOT and York County – owners

Capital Management & Engineering, construction management

U.S. Group:

Embree Griner, owner/president

Greg Cook, vice president

Haskel Sexton II, Operations manager

Bob Price, project manager

Truett Garner, project superintendent

S.C. 901 Subcontractors:

A.M. Tuck Inc., Greenwood, SC – bridge

Sanitary Plumbing Contractors, Simpsonville, SC – box culvert

Boggs Paving, Inc., Monroe, NC – paving and concrete

MRB Inc., Gaffney, SC – traffic signals

Barfield Grading, Inc., Fort Mill, SC – hauling

Herndon Inc., Lugoff, SC – clearing and erosion control