SCDOT creates new strategy as Carolina Crossroads Project struggles to attract bids
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - More than 134,000 cars every day travel what’s commonly referred to as “malfunction junction,” one of the largest interchanges in the Midlands. Now, the South Carolina Department of Transportation is splitting the $1.5 billion project into five phases, after receiving only one bid for the entirety of the project earlier this year.
Phase 1 includes Colonial Life Boulevard at I-126 Interchange; phase two will involve Broad River Road at the I-20 Interchange; Phase 3 will involve system Interchanges at I-20/26 and I-26/126 including St. Andrews Road at I-26 and Bush River Road at I-20 Interchanges; Phase 4 includes Harbison Boulevard at I-26 Interchange and frontage road relocation; Phase 5 will involve the I-26 widening west of St. Andrews Road.
According to the Department of Transportation, each phase will be placed up for bid individually and bidding on the first two phases will begin in the spring and summer of 2020, respectively. Construction on the first two phases will then begin in 2021. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2029.
SCDOT officials said the project has hit a few snags in the road, most notably a dwindling number of contractors willing to bid on a project the size of Carolina Crossroads. As a result, SCDOT says dividing the project up into five phases will be the best deal for South Carolina.
Matt Olsen works in Columbia but lives in Irmo, fighting traffic at the interchange on a daily basis.
“Sometimes it’ll take me 30 minutes, but other times it could be 45 minutes,” he said. “Worst case it’s an hour, which is insane to go 12 miles.”
He along with other drivers have grown weary over the DOT’s plans for the Carolina Crossroads Project but said he understands the multiple steps officials have to go through to make construction happen.
“It is frustrating when you find out, cool they’re going to expand it, great, and then it’s like oh, you’re going to have to wait another year and it’s going to take another 10, and it’s like, I probably won’t even be here when they’re done.”
The DOT says while talks of the project began in 2015, it wasn’t until this spring the federal government signed off on the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision. It also said the project construction is anticipated to take eight years by using a phased approach, which is one year longer than originally anticipated. However, according to the SCDOT website, construction is not scheduled to be completed until 2029.
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