After months of inaction, North Columbia business owners pleased with new penny tax sidewalk

After months of inaction, North Columbia business owners pleased with new penny tax sidewalk

NORTH COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Days after WIS brought you a story about an unpaved sidewalk causing North Columbia business owners both headaches and profit, the sidewalk is being repaved as part of the Richland County Penny Tax program.

Rick Nodden, owner of National Tax Services, expressed frustration in late January about the sidewalk in front of his business in the 3700 block of North Main Street. According to Nodden, workers tore up the sidewalk last summer, leaving it unpaved and a hazard to his customers.

“It made the difference between us staying open or closing,” Nodden said. “Without parking near and no way to even walk in, there’s no way we would have made it through tax season.”

This is Nodden’s busiest week of the year and prior to the sidewalk being completed, some customers were forced to stay in the cars while trying to file their taxes, unable to navigate the curb and step to his doorway.

“We had one customer who was disabled who had to send his wife in to sign the paperwork because he couldn’t get in the door safely,” Nodden said.

Crews spent Tuesday morning finishing up much of the cement work, leaving a few pieces unfinished. According to Nodden, the unfinished sections contain the bases for street lights. However, the design will need to be reworked as the current positioning of the lights is located underneath the building’s awning.

“The building owner told me he’d been arguing three years and hadn’t gotten anywhere so it was a rapid change,” Nodden said.

According to the Richland County Penny Tax website, the North Main Street Widening project, of which the sidewalk is a part of, was estimated in 2012 to cost $30,000,000. A more recent evaluation in late 2019 valued the project at $60,000,000.

WIS reached out to the project manager with the county’s transportation office to find out why there was a delay in laying the sidewalk. She was only able to confirm the concrete has been laid.

Those who frequent the area and walk past the businesses said they’re thankful action has been taken.

“I’ve had a lot of people stop me on the street and say they appreciate it because something is finally getting done,” Nodden said.

Crews will shift their focus to developing a solution to a shortage of street parking, likely to be removed as part of the larger project.

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