Lexington road project called partial fix

tflach@thestate.comJune 21, 2013 

— Changes coming at a busy Lexington intersection will be a partial fix for congestion, as state and local officials agreed Friday to keep trying to make the rest of the plan happen.

Restriping a few blocks of U.S. 378 near I-20 and Corley Mill Road so it carries three instead of two lanes of vehicles and adjusting traffic signals there promise “incremental improvements” in alleviating jams, state planner Tony Sheppard said at a review of the situation.

But the second part of the plan is in limbo, leading Lexington County and town officials to predict bottlenecks will worsen when the new River Bluff High School opens in August. The addition of a traffic circle and wider side road to divert traffic a few blocks west of the intersection is up in the air as some landowners haven’t donated road frontage needed after more than a year of negotiation.

Lack of those two features means traffic flow “won’t be as good” indefinitely, said State Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry, whose district includes the intersection.

The unsettled situation led County Council chairman Bill Banning to warn those pieces of the plan may never happen.

“This thing is about to blow up,” he said in an interview.

The intersection already is among the busiest in the Midlands. State traffic counts estimate 30,000 vehicles travel it daily.

Enrollment of more than 1,400 at the new high school will add even more traffic to the road, particularly at morning rush hour. The number of students is forecast to rise to 2,000 within years.

Town leaders are warning motorists to prepare for more congestion once classes start in August.

Lexington 1 officials ruled out staggered start and departure times at the school on Corley Mill, a mile north of the intersection, saying it wouldn’t help traffic.

Classes instead will start at 8:15 a.m. and end at 3:45 p.m., chosen after studies showed “a lull” in road congestion then, school spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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