LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Drivers in downtown Lexington will encounter a new traffic flow beginning Saturday morning, as the town is set to complete its first project designed to alleviate congestion.
The S.C. 6 One-Way Pair Project was first introduced during the summer of 2015, but construction did not begin until October of 2017.
According to Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall, a vision plan was instituted in 2012 that laid out goals for addressing traffic and congestion issues. From that, the town developed three projects to help with traffic flow in some of busiest parts of town. The two other projects are currently under review by the Department of Transportation.
"We experienced 80 percent growth in the Town of Lexington and nothing was done with our roads to accommodate that growth," MacDougall said. "So our vision plan told us we needed to start focusing on traffic improvement projects. This was one of three projects and decided to really focus on, spend dollars on and really try to make happen."
The $2.5 million project will be funded solely by the town's hospitality tax, which was approved by town council in 2015. The two cents tax is applied to any prepared food purchased in Lexington, whether it be at a restaurant or grocery store.
Beginning at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, traffic will be split at North Lake Drive and Church Street, extending to Maiden Lane where traffic will then join back together. The Lake Drive lanes will head northbound while the Church Street lanes will flow southbound.
According to traffic studies ordered by the town, 17,000 cars travel on Main Street every day, 12,500 travel on Lake Drive and 3,500 cars drive on Church Street. The one-way pairing will allow for a 40 percent increase in green signal time for Main Street traffic, according to MacDougall.
"This project, because of the scope of it and what it does long term, ended up being the solution to this area, so we went with it and are in the process of completing," MacDougall said.
With an increasing number of small businesses opening up shop on Main Street in downtown Lexington, MacDougall said he hopes the ease in traffic flow will allow for more people to access their favorite shops and restaurants.
Jeremy Addy owns Craig Reagin Clothiers on Main Street and has been at the location for seven years. He's hopeful the one-way pair project is successful.
"People will call us before they come and ask us how traffic is because, even if they're only coming from the other side of Lexington, it can end up be a 30 minute or hour trip," Addy said. "So they'll call us and ask how traffic is, is there anything going on in downtown, are there any events going on are we going to be able to find parking."
As a result of the traffic and limited parking, Addy said his business has seen a new trend over the last couple of years.
"A good bit of our business is online and we've even seen it where people who live in Lexington will order online because they don't want to come downtown and get in traffic and everything," Addy said. "So anything we can do to alleviate traffic will help downtown because it will finally give people an opportunity to come down if they want to."
Lexington Police will be on hand for the first few weeks of the change to ensure drivers are successfully navigating the new traffic pattern, according to MacDougall.