COLUMBIA, SC — The forecast for the weekend might be cooler than previous years, but the traffic forecast with university move-in, a rally and predicted rain might make navigating through downtown Columbia on Saturday as sweltering as ever.
The annual move-in weekend at USC is projected to bring thousands of new students and their parents to the streets of downtown.
About 6,173 students will live on campus in residence halls, and most of those move in Friday and Saturday, according to USC. About a quarter of students already have moved back in, including residence hall mentors and freshman women going through sorority recruitment. But the remaining majority move in this weekend.
Be aware that when you’re in and around the USC area, it’s going to be congested with vehicle traffic and a lot more pedestrians, said Sgt. Derek Miller with the Columbia Police Department.
“If you have to go through that area, just plan an extra few minutes to get through,” Miller said.
Also Saturday, hundreds are expected to attend a morning rally and march in memory of Kelly Hunnewell, a baker and mother of four who was shot and killed at work during the early hours of July 1. The march will begin at 9 a.m. at Sumter and Pendleton streets and end with a rally at the State House.
About 1.5 inches of rain is predicted by Saturday night on top of the typical move-in traffic congestion.
Soggy cardboard aside, the intersection of Whaley and Main streets floods during heavy rainfall and could affect those traveling to and from dorms in that area.
Assembly Street could be an issue as well, at least on Friday.
Roadwork will be taking place near the Carolina Coliseum, near the new business school building, on Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. One lane will most likely be closed, said Jay Thompson, a state transportation department resident construction engineer.
There will not be construction on Assembly Street on Saturday and all lanes will be open, Thompson said.
Thompson said those working on the project have been coordinating with USC closely during times of high congestion. For example, construction will not block the Greene Street corridor at 9 a.m. Monday for freshmen walking down to the Carolina Coliseum for a Welcome Week event.
“We tried to get as much done as we could before everyone came back,” Thompson said.
USC police officers and other university personnel will help with traffic flow and patrol parking, said university spokesman Wes Hickman.
To help traffic flow for move-in, Greene Street, in front of the Women’s Quad renovations, will temporarily be reopened to two lanes, after being one-way since construction on the project began this spring, Hickman said.
Drivers will not be able to access Greene Street from Bull Street, but they can access the garage and parking off the street by Patterson Hall and the Russell House student union, he said.
USC’s Vehicle Management & Parking Services sent an email to USC students saying the gates on garages near residence halls will be up from this past Wednesday through Sunday for free parking.
The email encouraged everyone to follow all parking rules and regulations.
“It’s just that time of the year again,” Miller said.
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.