Lexington officials are abandoning an unusual idea to improve traffic flow in the center of town.
A plan to put a traffic circle at the intersection of U.S. 378 and South Lake Drive by Lexington Middle School has been abandoned.
That intersection as well as one at nearby North Lake instead will be widened and turn lanes added in coming months.
“We’ll be doing things that are conventional,” Town Administrator Britt Poole said.
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The change comes after town leaders decided the circle proposed would not handle traffic growth.
Slightly more than 40,000 vehicles go through the intersection of U.S. 378 and Lake Drive daily, according to state traffic counts.
The intersections are on major crossroads that also are shopping hubs.
A larger circle would have required the costly step of acquiring up to a half-dozen nearby businesses and tearing them down, officials said.
“It proved not be the solution to the problem,” Mayor Steve MacDougall said.
Improvements for North Lake weren’t part of the plan. But they were added after officials concluded they were necessary to avert backups there as well, Poole said.
Lake Drive (S.C. 6) zigzags through town, with its northern segment separated a few blocks from its southern stretch.
“Not including it (North Lake) essentially made a new pinch point,” Poole said. “It created another bottleneck.”
Town leaders looked at traffic circles despite complaints the feature would confuse motorists and increase delays.
The intersection upgrades are among the road improvements that will be paid for with a local meal tax of two pennies on the dollar adopted last year.
So far, town leaders are sticking with plans to install another circle on Corley Mill Road, with a side street to divert traffic from where U.S. 378 and I-20 meet.
Traffic jams are common there as students travel to and from River Bluff High School while commuters are heading to work and home.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483