COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – The Riverbanks Zoo is asking two Midlands counties to foot the bill for a proposed development project.

The ‘Bridge to the Wild’ would go over the Saluda River, connecting the zoo to the gardens an running through the woods. The project would also include a new skyway tram, primate forest, and nature reserve.

Planners are asking Lexington and Richland Counties to split the anticipated $80 million cost, with Lexington paying $35 million and Richland paying $45 million. The price of the project is a small fraction of the roughly $148 million that the zoo brings in for the region annually.

The funds would come from an increase on property taxes for homeowners in the area. For example, taxes on a $100,000 home could rise by around $7.50 annually. Susan O’Cain, the zoo’s Director of Public Relations, explained that the price increase would be worth it because the zoo expansion would create additional jobs and grow the local economy.

The counties will have first readings of the proposal over the summer.

A smaller development project building one phase of the skybridge, a new aquarium, and a reptile conservation center is already underway thanks to a grant from the Boyd Foundation. Those attractions are expected to open in the fall.