City of Laurens Requests Grant Funding for 19 Miles of New Sidewalks

December 13, 2022

The City of Laurens has requested more than $30 million in funding from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) for construction or repair of 19 miles of sidewalks throughout the city. This grant request follows months of collecting information from the public and meetings between City leadership with SCDOT. This effort to overhaul the city’s transportation infrastructure is part of a new program the City’s administration is calling “Connect Laurens.”

“There are citizens in this city who do not have a vehicle – whether because of age or economic circumstances – and they must walk to buy groceries and other basic necessities of life,” said Mayor Nathan Senn. “Unfortunately, many of those residents are forced to walk along the shoulders of highways when making that trip, and that simply isn’t safe. With this funding, we will not only help repair many existing sidewalks across the city, we will build new ones in places where they are needed but have never existed before. This is just another example of our commitment to meet the needs and improve every part of our city.”

The funding request was submitted to SCDOT’s “Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program” (TAP). Funded by the State, TAP allows local governments to apply for grants that will fund non-motorized transportation projects. Connect Laurens is intended to provide a significant economic and community impact. By creating a safe walking community, residents will have a secure way to reach services including schools, stores, and recreation areas. By improving the walkability and accessibility of our neighborhoods, Laurens will become a safer community for current residents and a more attractive community for future investment.
According to City Administrator Eric Delgado, the purpose of the “Connect Laurens” initiative is to update aging, damaged sidewalks, add missing sidewalks, add or improve ADA accessibility for pedestrian paths which pre-date 1990, and create pedestrian connectivity to schools and commercial centers.
High traffic areas such as: Hillcrest Drive, Fleming Street, Green Street, Fairground Road, and Exchange Drive are just a few areas that can expect to see sidewalks if the project is approved.

“Connect Laurens” has received almost a dozen letters of support from community leaders and organizations in favor of the project including Senator Danny Verdin, Laurens District 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas, and the Laurens County Disabilities and Special Needs Board.
Mayor Senn requested full support of the project saying, “While Laurens is beginning to grow again, we also want to grow well, and this is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to doing that – but it is an important piece.”

The City’s grant application, spearheaded by Mr. Delgado, includes a total budget estimate of $30,158,324.00, and the City has requested that the entire project cost be funded by the state. “Connect Laurens” was submitted on Friday, December 9, 2022 and awards for approved projects will be issued on May 8th, 2023.