Lexington residents should see work start shortly on some long-planned projects that could reshape the town, Mayor Steve MacDougall said.
MacDougall’s annual State of the Town address Monday night at 6 p.m. will include an update on what work could start in coming months.
“We’ll finally see some ground moving,” MacDougall said without identifying specific projects.
Addressing traffic problems is sure to be one of them. Bottlenecks remain a major source of frustration in a steadily growing community that is the second-largest in the Columbia area.
Town leaders are waiting on state transportation officials to sign off on plans to add new traffic signals and widen intersections to ease congestion, MacDougall said.
Road improvements will be juggled with fixing flood-damaged dams, revitalizing downtown and protecting the lower Saluda River.
Traffic jams particularly symbolize a larger challenge, some community leaders say.
Town Hall ought to spearhead development of a plan to deal with all facets of growth across central Lexington County expected through 2040, said Otis Rawl, president of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce.
“We really want to see them come up with a plan for managing growth,” he said.
It’s a task that would require unprecedented cooperation with county leaders, Lexington 1 schools, recreation officials and others.
LEXINGTON’S KEY CHALLENGES
Here are highlights of key decisions ahead:
Three major commuter routes lined with stores and offices converge in the center of town. Can you say “congestion”?
Traffic in the town of 25,000 residents equals that in a community of 130,000 people, officials say.
The town is halfway done installing digital signals at three dozen intersections. Improvements at three key intersections – financed by a tax of two pennies on the dollar on restaurant and takeout meals – are expected to be finished within seven years.
Rebuilding the Old Mill Pond dam and strengthening the one at Gibson Pond Park are bills coming due – once it’s clear what’s required to fix the local landmarks after lengthy reviews.
Both were damaged by flooding after record rain in October 2015.
Initial estimates for the Old Mill Pond dam alone range as high as $5 million, depending on the extent of repairs needed.
A new downtown core
A new 900-seat amphitheater will host several events intended to spark interest in a specialty retail hub officials are trying to develop on Main Street.
It’s too soon to say if the project can be the catalyst intended or if something more is needed.
A face-lift for Virginia Hylton Park, a shady oasis in the center of the town, is also part of the plan.
Cleaning up the river
Town Hall is tangling with Carolina Water Service over ending sewage spills in the lower Saluda River.
The privately owned utility is resisting buyout offers for areas with 3,300 customers, saying all it needs is from the town is a connection to a regional sewer network. Town leaders instead want to take over the utility with a record that’s mixed on environmental protection and customer service.