Groundbreaking on traffic improvement project at busy intersection in downtown traffic

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Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 9:30 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - One of Columbia’s busiest intersections is about to get an overhaul to keep traffic moving.

Richland County transportation leaders broke ground on the project today at the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Bull Street. The improvements are a part of a long list of traffic projects included in the penny program voted on by residents back in 2012.

Construction is set to start on Jan. 2, 2023, and the project manager tells WIS contractors will be working at night to have as little impact on drivers as possible.

It would be nice if it wasn’t nearly as congested,” said one driver who frequents the area.

Congested is one of the many ways drivers WIS spoke with today described the intersection of Bull Street and Elmwood Avenue. Some are even anxious to drive into the area.

“Yeah, I’m nervous right now to go where I need to go,” said Nicole Gadson, another driver that frequents the area.

Starting on Jan. 2, contractors will have 280 days to enhance the intersection and make it safer for drivers and pedestrians.

Jesica Mackey, Richland County Council Vice Chair in District 9, “This project was one of those projects that residents felt like we needed improvements on and to be able to break ground on this project now and provide the relief with delay times and bring expansion will be huge for this downtown growing area.”

Richland County transportation leaders presented the plans for the project today. They include adding a continuous turning lane from Bull Street onto Elmwood Avenue. This new lane will be continuous but right now, there’s just one right turn lane with a signal. Drivers heading north on Bull Street currently have two straight lanes. With this new project, they’ll be increasing that to three lanes. Director of Public Works Mike Maloney says this will drop travel time for drivers by an average of two minutes. County Chair Overture Walker says these enhancements are the penny program at work.

Walker says, “Your penny is doing exactly what you hoped it would do and that is making travel in Richland County easier and more efficient as well as enhancing the vibrancy and quality of life in where you live work, and play.”

But this project goes beyond just adding lanes. Take a look a closer look at the renderings. The shaded areas show where contractors will repave the roads.

Goldson says, “I’ve had issues. I’ve caught a flat tire. It’s uneven so that kind of had it to where I had to spend out a little bit more money.”

The project is expected to take about 280 days to complete but the project manager told WIS today that’s if there are no unforeseen issues that could prolong the construction. The price tag for this project is 5 million dollars.

So far, the city has completed 200 projects thanks to the penny program. Together the total list of projects cost 1.07 billion dollars.

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