Town of Lexington council candidates debate issues, hone in on traffic solutions

(Source: WIS)
(Source: WIS)

LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Candidates vying for the Town of Lexington council seat vacated in February are doubling down on traffic patterns plaguing the town.

Longtime council member Ted Stambolitis resigned in February, leaving the seat up for a special election.

Candidates Bennett Casto, Todd Lyle, and Jeremy Addy debated a host of issues during a forum hosted by the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce on Thursday night.

Earlier this month, the town announced plans for a new Marriott hotel, set to open on E. Main Street in the heart of downtown. Some residents are concerned the new hotel will add to the traffic congestion and lack of parking in the downtown area. 

Many of the questions asked at Thursday night's forum revolved around traffic and parking solutions as the town continues to experience substantial growth.

Jeremy Addy owns a clothing store in downtown Lexington and sees the traffic woes along Main Street on a daily basis. At the forum, he discussed the possibility of creating bypasses using existing roads.

"We already have a road in place here in town -- Gibson Road, basically all you'd have to do is widen that road," Addy said. "A lot of the property that's on the road is already owned by the county or town so you wouldn't have to use eminent domain to buy much of the property."

He said the town could also connect SC Highway 6 to U.S. 1 by connecting several neighborhoods.

"By doing small things like that, taking advantage of what we already have, you don't have to spend as much money and its routes people are already familiar with," he said.

Work on the SC-6 One Way Pair Project is already underway. Its goal is to make the intersection of Main Street at North Lake Drive flow more efficiently. The town said by splitting the northbound and southbound movements, the signals at Lake Drive and Church Street can serve twice as many vehicles as they currently do.

Todd Lyle said the project could alleviate congestion but said his goal is to help the town determine the "right" way to continue to grow.

"We can't cave to instant gratification," he said. "We need to make a decision based on growth models decades down the road. It's important to me that we don't put band-aids on things and throw good money at a bad problem for a quick fix."

Overcoming the desire for instant gratification may not be an easy one, but Lyle said it's important for the well-being of the town long term. He also said more help from representatives in Columbia is crucial.

"We need to interface well with the county and state," he said. "Part of this traffic problem is based on state budget issues, based on the town having to deal with what the county and state does with it. The town doesn't own any roads, 
so we need someone to better interface with our brethren in Columbia to make sure we get what's due and owed to the town."

Bennett Casto said one of his top priorities is to be accessible to constituents if elected. He said skepticism is high around the SC-6 One Way Pair Project.

"If that's going to work or not and if it doesn't if people don't think that's a solution I want to hear from them," Casto said. "I really want to be somebody that can give and receive citizen's feedback."

To continue the town's growth, Casto also said keeping taxes low and ensuring new businesses aren't bogged down in start-up fees is crucial.

"I think with more people coming to the area you'll see more contributions in things such as the hospitality tax and hopefully that would generate some returns we could put toward infrastructure," he said.

The special election takes place May 29.

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