Major Lexington County road project nears end

tflach@thestate.comJune 23, 2013 

— The final touches are under way on widening six miles of Platt Springs Road in and around Red Bank, ending three years of inconvenience for residents and commuters.

Work is slated to finish by mid-September, 3½ months later than planned, state transportation officials said.

Enduring months of construction was “aggravating even though it’s definitely going to be beneficial when it’s over,” said Simon Froese, who lives and works in the area.

The $21.1 million project widens the thoroughfare in central Lexington County to five lanes from two on a segment from just west of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport to near South Lake Drive (S.C. 6).

It’s a major route for those headed to jobs in downtown Columbia, students at White Knoll High and shoppers at stores clustered at Platt Springs and South Lake.

An estimated 11,000 vehicles use the road daily, state traffic counts say. But it’s being built to handle thousands more, amid forecasts of steady population growth.

The work has included installing better stormwater drainage under pavement, crossing environmentally sensitive creeks and putting up concrete walls to prevent erosion from hills lining parts of the road.

Dealing with those challenges is “just par for the course,” said Bryan Jones, who oversees such projects in the Midlands for the state Department of Transportation.

The last segment undergoing work is a mile west of Emanuel Church Road, as curbs are installed and a new crossing over a creek is built.

Some motorists are puzzled why two miles west of that site are partially paved, with traffic barrels keeping vehicles off the widened road.

But inspections are incomplete on drainage pipes underneath, with repairs faster and easier to accomplish if needed before the last layer of asphalt is laid, said Ashleigh Sandel, a state engineer overseeing parts of the project.

The pace of work is too slow for some residents.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” said state Rep. Mac Toole, whose neighborhood is off the road. “There’s been way too many issues, way too many delays.”

It would have been better to widen the road in sections “instead of having it torn apart from A to Z,” he said.

The major problem for Froese was erosion into his family’s pond, with removal of the silt destroying the surrounding landscape.

“Something we really enjoy was damaged,” he said, leading his family to halt work before all the sediment was taken out.

Rain pushed the finish of construction beyond the original May 31 deadline, Jones said.

Some motorists say coping with road improvements always is an irritation.

Mike McCall, whose insurance agency sits at the western edge of the work, said the hassles “aren’t anything I couldn’t live with.”

Ron Simpson, general manager of Indian River Golf Club, said his daily drive on the road is frustrating at times – but bearable.

“I just try to be patient,” he said.

Road project at a glance

Project start: August 2010

Original finish: May 31

New completion target: Sept. 15

Cost: $21.1 million

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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