The upstate South Carolina towns of Mauldin, Simpsonville and Fountain Inn are all located northwest to southeast along Interstate 385 in southern Greenville County. Collectively, the area is known locally as the "Golden Strip," with the interstate highway serving as the "strip."
The Golden Strip is a name that was given to the area years ago due to the expectation that it was ripe for growth, and over time, that prediction came true as the corridor has experienced a boom in development.
Now, roadway improvements are planned for several major feeder corridors in the Golden Strip in the coming years. Details have emerged recently about three projects aimed at improving traffic flow in the bustling suburban area.
East Butler Road in Mauldin
A 1.7-mi. section of East Butler Road from North Main Street (U.S. 276) down to Brookbend Road and the Mauldin Senior Center will be upgraded under a plan from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), the Greenville Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS) and the city of Mauldin.
Potential improvements along the corridor include new curbs and gutters, a sidewalk on one side of Butler Road and a multi-use path along the other side. In addition, intersection upgrades will be done at Brookbend Road, Old Mill Road and Bethel Drive, and at Murray Drive and Fairfield Drive. The replacement of culverts with two bridges also will be built over Gilder Creek.
Construction is tentatively projected to begin in 2023, according to SCDOT. The upgrade is currently in the preliminary engineering phase, with a public information meeting planned for early 2021 to share details about the project and gain public input.
The East Butler Road project is projected to cost approximately $17 million — funds that SCDOT will provide to GPATS, in addition to federal monies.
West Georgia Road in Simpsonville
Down the interstate, West Georgia Road in Simpsonville will be widened and have several intersections improved under a second plan managed by SCDOT.
The project includes upgrades at three West Georgia Road intersections: at Neely Ferry Road; at East Standing Spring Road; and at Rocky Creek Road.
The state transportation agency also plans to widen West Georgia Road to three lanes from Kettle Oak Way to Rio Grande (a private drive) as well as from Morning Mist Lane to Malibu Lane.
The entire $3.4 million enterprise is tentatively expected to begin construction in mid-2024, according to SCDOT. It, too, is currently on the drawing board, a stage which will incorporate a traffic study and surveys.
The project cost is coming from a federal grant, the SCDOT said.
Exit 22 Off I-385 in Fountain Inn
Interstate 385's Exit 22 in South Carolina is on the Laurens County side of Fountain Inn. There, the transportation department has planned an upgrade to enhance traffic flow and minimize congestion, said Fountain Inn City Administrator Shawn Bell.
The goal is that by improving this exit, drivers will be able to access it instead of Exit 23 to bypass heavy traffic on SC Highway 418, he added.
Roadway improvements also are planned for the South Woods Drive and North Old Laurens Road intersection.
He said Fountain Inn will work in partnership with Laurens County on the Exit 22 project. As of the last week in December, there was no timeline for this project, but Bell hoped that Fountain Inn and Laurens County can find a traffic engineer for the job in the first quarter of 2021.
The projected cost for the Exit 22 at I-385 improvements are $912,000, funded through a penny sales tax recently passed by referendum vote in Laurens County.