Work on the four-block section of South Main Street from Pendleton Street to Blossom Street is slated to begin in the spring of 2023. The $23 million project will reduce the current five lanes to two, so that crews can widen the sidewalks and add a bike lane to both sides of the roadway. (Photo courtesy of South Main Capital District Area Plan)
A multi-million-dollar road construction project designed to boost safety for pedestrians and bike-riders near the University of South Carolina (USC) campus in Columbia has been given the green light after a more than five-year hiatus due to funding issues.
Work on the four-block section of South Main Street from Pendleton Street to Blossom Street is slated to begin in the spring of 2023. The $23 million project will reduce the current five lanes to two, so that crews can widen the sidewalks and add a bike lane to both sides of the roadway.
The South Main Streetscape Project is located on a connecting route from the South Main Corridor to the South Carolina State House and a commonly utilized pedestrian route to the USC campus.
"The intent is twofold," explained Pete Poore, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), in speaking to Columbia's WACH-TV FOX 57. "It's to make that corridor more aesthetically pleasing, but probably more importantly to make it safer [by reducing traffic speeds]."
The street improvement project, paused in 2017 due to funding issues, is now expected to move forward with few issues, WACH-TV reported. The project is a collaboration between SCDOT, local and national government officials, and USC.
"I see it doing several things. I see it bringing new multi-family offerings," Columbia city council member Will Brennan told FOX 57 on Nov. 28. "There are a lot of surface lots around there that could be bigger and [used] better."
He noted the aim of the street upgrade is to attract more businesses and help alleviate issues with parking, as well as to improve landscaping for the businesses already in the area.
"New life, and new construction, is something that we hope," Brennan added.
But big benefits for bike riders and walkers could mean big headaches for drivers. Some USC students and people who work in the area voiced their concerns to FOX 57 about long-term delays.
"I think the traffic will probably get worse, and the traffic here, all the way up to Blossom is already pretty bad," said Cade Wilson, a first-year student at USC.
That same sentiment is shared by Joseph Yi, who works a few blocks away from the planned construction zone.
"I am sure as a walker, it would be more enjoyable, with more beauty," he told the Columbia TV station. "But as a driver going through, it could be a bit aggravating,"
SCDOT officials have planned for the project to be wrapped up in 2024, if everything goes according to schedule.
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