COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The statistically most dangerous area in South Carolina for pedestrians could be getting upgrades.
Monday, the S.C. Department of Transportation confirmed it has set aside $4 million for road projects along Harden and Blossom Streets in the Five Points neighborhood of Columbia.
The move comes after the department published plans for improvements to the two streets over the summer.
The plan for Harden Street states the 0.45-mile strip between Blossom Street and Pendleton Street is statistically the most dangerous area in the state for pedestrians and bicycle riders from 2013 through 2018 (17 crashes).
The Blossom Street plan laid out how that area was in the top 10 for the same metric over 2.9 miles, from the Lexington County Line to Sims Avenue (26 crashes).
Rep. Seth Rose (D-Five Points) said the combined projects would cost an approximate $4.85 million, and he is working to obtain the remaining $850,000 through other government resources.
He said the current design of Harden Street (where two lanes change to four) is putting pedestrians at risk, and changes need to be made.
“I think this is a special place, it can be something transformative. I imagine a lot more people being able to walk through Five Points, walking their dogs, being down here with your kids, not afraid they’re going to get run over. It’s a speedway in Five Points,” she said.
His concern is echoed by the President of the Five Points Association and owner of the Saluda’s restaurant Steven Cook.
“Some people just go from the top of that Hill in Shandon, and fly all the way to Gervais,” he said.
Neither plan is finalized, but among the suggested changes include condensing a portion of Harden Street from four lanes to two.
The intersection of Devine and Harden would be altered, as would the Harden/Blossom Street intersection.
Other changes include implementing ramps, adding signage, and altering curbs in the area.
The plan for the Harden Street improvements does state the reduction in lanes would slow traffic. It also states the shifting of the curb could aggravate the area’s flood risk.
The department plans to hold public input meetings on the plans in early 2021.
In addition to the road changes, the Wells Fargo branch located on Saluda Avenue is closing in February.
Rose said he is working with the company to ensure the plot goes to an owner who is community-oriented.
“That property can be very key to the future success of Five Points, so we want to make sure that property goes into the right hands,” he said.
Cook said the construction of a parking garage would be an economic engine for the area.
“We think that having more available parking is going to enable some of these places turning over to be confident that some of their customers are going to reach them,” he said.