Lexington seeks better flow on 2 main roads

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 12, 2014 

Lexington town leaders want landscaped medians along U.S. 378 and S.C. 6 to help control congestion and beautify roads used by commuters and shoppers.

LEXINGTON TOWN HALL

— Lexington leaders are taking a second step to improve traffic flow on and beautify two thoroughfares known as the town’s “front porches.”

A plan for 10 miles of landscaped medians on U.S. 378 and S.C. 6 is included in projects that Town Hall hopes will be paid for by a proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.

Both roads are evolving into retail strips, intensifying congestion on a pair of major commuter routes that state counts say carry more than 50,000 vehicles daily.

U.S. 378 – known locally as Sunset Boulevard – is the main eastern entry into the steadily growing community of 18,000 residents while S.C. 6 – known locally as Lake Drive – is the main northern entry.

Town leaders want medians in place before more commercial development increases traffic jams significantly.

Medians will limit left turns, encouraging motorists instead to use a series of side roads connecting stores, officials say. Breaks in the medians will allow turns, mainly at signalized intersections.

Putting medians in place is one of two steps town leaders say is vital to alleviate traffic bottlenecks. The other is a network of signals that adjust with congestion, slated to debut in spring 2015.

Adding trees plants and shrubs to the medians also will improve the town’s image, officials say.

Landscaped medians create a “a welcome home” impression for residents and commuter alike, a recent study said in recommending a step that other communities use for traffic control.

Town leaders favor medians on the pair of busy roads even though some motorists still fume at an 11-year-old one-block buffer on Main Street downtown (U.S. 1) that narrowed it and prevents left turns.

The thoroughfares are wider, so medians there will provide an appealing look without hemming in traffic, Mayor Steve MacDougall said.

No price tag for the project is determined yet.

Town leaders hope an advisory panel includes the medians in a package of improvements across Lexington County that a proposed sales tax would finance. The tax plan is slated to go to voters in a Nov. 4 referendum.

Getting even a piece of the medians in the package will be a plus, town officials said.

“We’ll work with what we get,” MacDougall said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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