River Bluff

Traffic headaches predicted with new Lexington Co. high school

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 23, 2013 

— Add congestion to the curriculum when River Bluff High near Lexington opens in the fall.

Road improvements planned to alleviate traffic jams won’t be ready when classes start in August, officials said Tuesday.

That could mean staggered starting and departure times, at least temporarily, for students at the Corley Mill Road school to ease congestion for all motorists

“It’s going to be a mess,” Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre said.

The bottlenecks foreseen – particularly on Corley Mill near the I-20/U.S. 378 intersection – could last most, if not all, of the academic year that ends in spring 2014.

County officials are working to obtain donations of road frontage from landowners along Corley Mill to put in a traffic circle and a side road designed to reduce the backups.

It’s taking longer than expected, but “things are looking good,” County Council chairman Bill Banning said.

Making the $3.5 million package of road improvements happen is a partnership among state, county, town and Lexington 1 school officials.

State officials plan to resurface U.S. 378 and make it three lanes each way to handle the extra traffic flow associated with the school.

Its intersection at I-20 near Corley Mill is a major commuter route, with 30,000 vehicles passing on it daily, traffic counts say.

The main focus is on lessening congestion during the morning rush hour, Lexington 1 spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

Classes may start as soon as 7:30 a.m. or as late as 9:30 a.m. for the initial enrollment of 1,350 expected, she said.

It’s possible some students will be allowed flexibility in when they come and go.

“We’re looking at contingency plans,” Hill said. “It’s all being talked about.”

River Bluff is expected to eventually be home to 2,000 students.

Town Hall likely will be forced to post police officers around the school to direct traffic in hopes of easing problems until the improvements are in place, Halfacre said.

“It’s going to be extremely congested,” he said. “It’s unfortunate this is happening. People need to be patient.”

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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