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Trucker's dilemma

Everyone from college students to trucking firms are plotting detour routes to use when construction on Interstate 385 begins in the Upstate next month.

Many are ignoring the DOT's official route because it would more than double the travel time from the Clinton area to many parts of Greenville.

For Golden Strip Transfer, a trucking business just off I-385 in Simpsonville, the official detour would turn a routine 30-mile, 30-minute stretch from near Clinton into nearly 65 miles and more than an hour because it involves taking I-26 all the way to Spartanburg, then I-85 back to Greenville.

The company's drivers are instead contemplating a route through Woodruff, using state highways 146 and 417, to avoid what is often the "nightmare" of I-85, general manager Chris Garrett said.

That route will save the company about 26 miles, maps show. The time savings remains to be seen, though Garrett said he expects it to be faster.

Although the cost per mile varies depending on the trucks, route and job type, the cost to navigate the new detours in diesel fuel alone could amount to as much as $16.80 per trip, according to general figures provided by Scott Murray, a vice president of the South Carolina Trucking Association.

For a company running 10 trips a day, the added fuel cost alone could exceed $26,000 over the projected eight-month course of the project. That figure doesn't include the cost of added time and other factors.

Garrett said the primary concern is safety and that on alternate routes cars aren't as used to interacting with trucks.

- Ben Szobody

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