Roughly 5,600 cars every day would enter and leave the new city-owned stadium and its adjacent private building, and the BullStreet development eventually would require widening of Colonial Drive, according to a traffic impact study.
Private engineers hired by master developer Hughes Development Corp. estimate the ballpark nearing completion will generate 1,679 vehicles daily, but the traffic would arrive after rush hour as commuters leave downtown, according to the voluminous study by consultants Kimley Horn.
The rest of the 5,621 cars would be carrying people shopping or going to work in the First Base Building that overlooks the $37 million stadium that next month will welcome minor-league baseball back to the Capital City.
Office, retail and residential space that is to be completed in about two years, largely fronting Bull Street, is projected to attract 23,327 vehicles daily. The third and final construction phase in the 181-acre neighborhood, largely fronting Harden Street, is to come with 23,012 vehicles per day, according to the long-awaited study.
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Altogether, 51,960 vehicles are projected to enter or leave the entire neighborhood by the time the three phases are completed, Kimley Horn said.
Some leaders of nearby neighborhoods already are expressing concern about the study, especially about the number of entrances proposed for the entire complex – a total of 16.
The study also requests the widening of Colonial Drive. Details of the proposal are unclear.
“As for a widening of Colonial Drive, no decision will be made until we get into later stages of the development,” said Robert Hughes, chief operating officer for Greenville-based Hughes Development. “(T)he roadway improvements in the report that we ultimately build will be tied to specific developments at some point in the future.”
The highly technical, 1,311-page analysis that is laden with statistics that perhaps only transportation engineers can understand is to be explained to the public starting next week. City Hall has scheduled a series of meetings Monday with leaders of neighborhoods that surround the BullStreet property.
On Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., anyone interested in the study is invited to a meeting in council chambers, the city announced late Thursday afternoon. Council also will discuss the study during its April meetings. State transportation officials are scouring the study and must approve all changes for the plan to go forward on the roads that are state-owned.
Carl Frederick, president of an eight-neighborhood coalition of residents who live between Harden Street and Two Notch Road, said Thursday that he’s worried about plans for five entryways along Harden, one of which the study designates a “major entry.”
“There is a push building,” Frederick said of talk among neighbors. “To what degree, I cannot say.”
He and others have been expressing their concerns to City Council representatives. Frederick said he is attending one of Monday’s private meetings with neighborhood leaders to gain a better understanding of what’s in the study.
Those meetings also will allow city staffers to gauge the reactions of people who live immediately around the BullStreet neighborhood.
Elizabeth Marks is president of the Robert Mills Historic District neighborhood along Calhoun Street, the southern boundary of BullStreet.
“Obviously, it’s going to dump thousands of cars onto Calhoun ... and onto an already overloaded intersection at Bull and Calhoun,” Marks said. Council members had told Robert Mills residents in the past that there would be no new intersections to connect BullStreet to Calhoun, she said. Calhoun is a city road, said assistant city manager Missy Gentry.
Work has been underway for weeks on a new intersection that extends Barnwell Street from inside of BullStreet to Calhoun. Previously, Barnwell was a dead-end road on the former state mental health agency campus. The study designates that intersection as a “major entry” to the property.
Gentry said the city’s contract with Hughes allows an intersection at existing roads – not at locations where roads had not already been cut. “Some residents did not realize that,” Gentry said.
Gregg Street, the only roadway that traverses BullStreet from Calhoun to Colonial, is the second major entrance in the study. Gregg has not been used for through traffic, Gentry said.
A third “minor entry” is just east of Bull Street on a small, previously closed road that recently was opened to state employees who work on the campus, Gentry said.
A state transportation engineer who is among a staff that is reviewing the study said Thursday they plan to decide within a few weeks on encroachment permits needed for state roads to be used to get to the stadium and the First Base Building.
The document is so large, however, that agency engineers hadn’t finished reading it and won’t estimate how long it will take to decide on the next two construction phases, said Carol Hamlin, the state permit engineer for metropolitan Columbia.
Reach LeBlanc at (803) 771-8664.
Discussion of BullStreet traffic study
Columbia city staffers are to meet next week privately and publicly with residents who want to know more about the long-awaited traffic impact study and to gauge their reactions.
When: Monday with invited neighborhood leaders only; Wednesday with the public.
Where: Both sets of meetings are at City Hall. Wednesday’s public meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in City Council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 1737 Main St.