Forest Acres receives green light to fund traffic improvements

Forest Acres receives green light to fund traffic improvements

FOREST ACRES, SC (WIS) - The almost 10-year-old discussion to transform the former Cardinal Newman School property is now one step closer to becoming a reality for Forest Acres residents.

After the Richland County Council approved the former Cardinal Newman school to be redeveloped into a business park, the City of Forest Acres put their focus into coming up with a solution for traffic.

Tuesday night in a Richland County Council meeting, the city was given the green light to make improvements to Forest Drive using property tax revenue from the proposed Cardinal Newman site development for traffic improvements including an investment into their traffic signals -- one that would cost $3.2 million.

Members of Forest Acres City Council on Wednesday night approved the Beach Company of Charleston's almost $60 million mixed-use commercial plans for the site, which will include luxury apartments and retail. However, before the plan to make use of this property with a major development came about, traffic was already a major concern for residents. The Beach Company says their development will add about 3,000 more cars to the area where right now 28,000 cars already travel.

Forest Acres City Administrator Mark Williams says after months of meetings, investing in traffic signals will be the best way to manage traffic.

"So we believe that adaptive traffic signals may afford an improvement in traffic flow on Forest Drive. Just the advent of that technology alone will have a meaningful impact," Williams said.

Of course traffic could get worse before it gets any better. That's because the funds for that technology won't come in until after construction is finished at Cardinal Newman which could take at least two years.

"In the context of traffic already being a concern on Forest Drive, the addition of any other traffic made it important for City Council to come up with a plan on better management of traffic," Williams said. "It has been a laborious process to get here, there have been lots of meetings and comments, both pro and con, and those have all factored into city council's decision."

On Wednesday night, the city council unanimously approved an ordinance to rezone this property to a plan development district.

City officials say now The Beach Company will proceed with their proposed development.

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