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SCDOT Enjoys Sweet Smell of Success Along Clemson Road

Wed February 23, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Diane Jowers

In the future, drivers at the intersection of Clemson and Two Notch roads may be trying to catch a red light — to stop and smell the flowers, to savor sweet scents and bursts of color in the midst of city traffic. That’s the plan, the Clemson Road Landscaping Plan. It is the result of the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s (SCDOT) concern about poor soil qualities discovered during preliminary work to widen Clemson Road in Richland County, SC. “Clemson University’s Sandhill Research and Education Center is right there on Clemson Road, so we went over to ask their advice,” said SCDOT District Construction Engineer Jim Cagney.

The Sandhill Center conducts research on urban landscaping and ornamental horticulture, and the visit lead to a plan that is being praised by all involved, including Richland County residents and government. Under the leadership of Professors Umit Yilmaz and Lolly Tai, 34 Clemson Landscape Architecture students accepted the Clemson Road challenge and made it a semester project. They developed a six-phase design that addresses erosion control, wetland remediation, and drought-resistant planting. Features, illustrated in a 480-centimeter (16 ft.) model and described in a 75-page “Design Book,” include seasonal foliage around the cloverleaf, a curved tree line bordered by shrubs and wildflowers, retaining walls to alleviate erosion of slopes, a detention pond, and medians and ramps that will offer motorists lovely views. The SCDOT is delighted with the students’ work. “In addition to stabilizing the sandy soil of the area, their plan incorporates native shrubs and flowers that will be visible from every approach to the major intersection in this community,” said Cagney.

The landscaping is now an important component of the SCDOT’s two-part project to widen Clemson Road, improve its intersection with Two Notch Road, and construct an overpass to relieve traffic congestion in the area. Federal (80 percent) and state (20 percent) funds are being used for the $13.8-million project. C. R. Jackson Inc., of Columbia, SC, is the contractor for the widening portion of the project, which involves 3.5 kilometers (2.19 mi.) of highway and will cost $4.38 million. More than 28,880 cubic meters (38,000 cu. yds.) of unclassified (on the construction site) soil and approximately 4,332 cubic meters (5,700 cu. yds.) of “borrow” (soil from other locations) will be moved for the widening of Clemson Road. Grading work began in January; C. R. Jackson has seven workers at the site and will be bringing in a pipe crew this month. The October 2000 target date for completion has been extended.

“The ice, snow, and extreme cold delayed us for only a week, but the real problem has been extensive, unforeseen utilities conflicts,” said SCDOT Resident Construction Engineer Thad Brunson. SCDOT personnel have had to spend a great deal of time working with utility companies to coordinate the relocation of many power, water, sewer, cable television, and gas lines. There is also a creek in the area, and box culverts are being constructed. C. R. Jackson and Sanitary Plumbing are working on this aspect of the project.

The Clemson and Two Notch roads area is the “Northeast Gateway” to Columbia. It has many residential subdivisions, several shopping centers, schools, and a recreation center. Residents, especially those in the Rhame and North Springs roads section, are experiencing traffic difficulties. There also is a congested commercial area along Hard Scrabble Road. “Traffic had become a nightmare, and to alleviate the problems, Clemson Road is being widened from two lanes to five, with one of those serving as a turn lane,” said Brunson. Residents of developments, such as Winslow, Wellington, Timbervale, Winchester, and Copperfield, will enjoy quicker and safer commutes when the project is completed. They will also enjoy the beauty of Black-eyed Susans and the scent of Jasmine.

The portion of the project that will include the overpass began in May 1999. This is 5.52 kilometers (3.45 mi.) of highway, and completion is scheduled for May 2002. Jones Brothers Inc. of Tennessee will construct the overpass. C. Ray Miles Inc. of Lugoff, SC, is the prime contractor for this work, which will cost $9.45 million. More than 149,720 cubic meters (197,000 cu. yds.) of unclassified soil excavation and approximately 741,380 cubic meters (975,500 cu. yds.) of “borrow” soil excavation will be required to complete the job.

“The biggest problem here is the fact that we have to move a landfill on the site to a municipal landfill,” said Brunson. SCDOT has been working with Nesco Environmental of Columbia to obtain the necessary Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) permits. Nesco developed a removal plan and will continuously monitor the work, testing the landfill materials and water in the area for hazardous waste characteristics.

As the work progresses along Clemson and Two Notch roads, Clemson students, professors, and Sandhill Center personnel are taking their “show” on the other roads of Richland County seeking funding for their landscaping plan. “The Clemson students have developed an ambitious design. We are impressed with their model and proud of their participation in this project. The cooperative efforts of the SCDOT, Clemson, and the contractor, C. Ray Miles, have really paid off for the community,” said Jim Cagney.

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