“At some point everybody gets orange barrel fatigue from road construction,” says Strickland. “We at least have the opportunity to make these road improvements. When we look back in 10 years, we’ll be grateful we made these improvements when we did.”
The project to widen Washington Road from Gibbs Road to William Few Parkway continues, and it is expected to be complete in late 2017 or early 2018. Upon completion, the road will have two travel lanes in each direction and a center turn lane. Right turn lanes will be included at some locations as well. Strickland also says the county has released requests for proposals to make improvements to Evans Town Center Boulevard.
A number of other projects, which are locally administered by Columbia County and funded through the state Transportation Investment Act that was approved by Central Savannah River Area voters in 2012, are continuing as well. The extension and realignment of River Watch Parkway from Baston Road to Washington Road in Evans is nearing completion, and improvements are about to begin on Lewiston Road.
This project will include widening Lewiston Road from two to four lanes north of Interstate 20 to Columbia Road. The project also will include a median with varying locations of turn lanes as well as pedestrian and bicycle accommodations throughout the corridor.
Two Grovetown road improvement projects, which also received TIA funding, are almost complete. The Wrightsboro Road project should be finished this month or in November, Waller says. The $3 million improvements to Wrightsboro Road include repaving as well as installing curbs and gutters along the 1.065 miles of the roadway between Robinson Avenue and Horizon South Parkway.
The project also includes widening and adding turn and stacking lanes at each intersection and the construction of a 10-foot wide, paved multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists on the north side of Wrightsboro Road connecting to Goodale Park.
The $8 million Robinson Avenue project includes widening the 1.35 miles between Newmantown Road and Bryan Circle to add center turn lanes at intersections as needed and the realignment of the Katherine Street intersection. It also includes a new traffic signal, curbs, gutters and sidewalks on both sides of the road. Additional improvements include lighting and other amenities in the downtown area to make it more pedestrian friendly.
“Managing expectations is huge,” Waller says. “Congestion on the roads is among our greatest challenges, and what makes it even more of a challenge is that we don’t control it. Robinson Avenue and Wrightsboro Road are both state roads.”
He also says the city has asked the state for assistance to install a new traffic signal at the intersection of Whiskey and Wrightsboro roads as part of the current construction project.
From roadway improvements to new businesses, restaurants and amenities, the landscape in Columbia County is ever changing.
“It’s an exciting time to be here,” says Strickland. “There’s a lot on the horizon.”
By Leigh Howard