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Work Begins On New Union Medical Center in S.C.; I-526 to Get Needed Repairs

Wed June 14, 2023 - Southeast Edition #14
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare & WCSC-TV


The combined replacement hospital and medical office building creates a sustainable model for health care in Union County that centralizes physician practices, outpatient services and inpatient care. (Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System rendering)
The combined replacement hospital and medical office building creates a sustainable model for health care in Union County that centralizes physician practices, outpatient services and inpatient care. (Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System rendering)

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System broke ground June 6 on the new $55 million Union Medical Center replacement facility in Upstate South Carolina.

State legislators, Upstate dignitaries, Spartanburg Regional associates and Union County leaders gathered with shovels in hand to commemorate the groundbreaking and signify a renewed commitment to providing excellent health care in Union County, southeast of Spartanburg.

The combined replacement hospital and medical office building creates a sustainable model for health care in Union County that centralizes physician practices, outpatient services and inpatient care.

"Union Medical Center is an integral part of the Spartanburg Regional family; breaking ground on this replacement hospital is an important milestone for our growing health system and for this community," said Mark Aycock, chief operating officer of Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

New Medical Center to Replace ‘50s Era Hospital

Located along U.S. Highway 176 across from Union Industrial Park, and 4 mi. from the current hospital, the new three-story, 99,600-sq.-ft. Union Medical Center is designed to put the patient first, the healthcare system noted, with a focus on accessibility and high-quality care.

Spartanburg Regional bought 48 acres for the new medical facility in 2015 following the acquisition of what was then known as Wallace Thomson Hospital, built in 1955. This new campus sits in the heart of Union County, central to the residential population and the business community.

The hospital's design includes large windows and open spaces with natural accents, promoting vibrancy throughout the campus. Photographs of iconic Union County scenes will be featured, showcasing the hospital's commitment to the community, the area and its residents.

Additionally, a chapel will offer a calming space for prayer, and a healing garden at the hospital's entrance will welcome patients and guests.

Site preparation for the new facility began earlier this spring, and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare officials expect the building to be complete in 2025.

The new campus will offer an array of essential medical services, including emergency care, imaging, inpatient and outpatient care, a laboratory, pharmacy, primary care, Gibbs Cancer Center infusion and Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health mammography.

Resurfacing of I-526 a Welcome Sight for Charleston Drivers

Interstate 526 in the area around Charleston, S.C. is finally getting some much-needed repairs, but they do not come without a multimillion-dollar price tag.

A contract awarded by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to North Charleston's Banks Construction Co. reveals the total cost of the project is $10.347 million.

The document, obtained by WCSC-TV in Charleston, shows that 7.96 mi. will be resurfaced on the 23-mi.-long highway — 5.9 mi. from Savannah Highway to International Boulevard and 2 mi. from Long Point Road to U.S. Highway 17 North.

Broken down, the construction costs $1.3 million per mile, WCSC-TV reported June 12.

Some work has already been completed as construction first began in May.

"It was long overdue," driver Marlin Reid told the station.

SCDOT has identified I-526 as one of the most congested highways in South Carolina and calls it a top priority because of its current and projected use.

Highway Has a Bad Rep Among Area Motorists

Issues with the roadway are nothing new for Lowcountry drivers.

"Horrific," is how Gwendolyn Doctor, a West Ashley native, described it, adding, "Lots of potholes. I run over them all the time. I've had busted tires too."

Reid, a long-time resident of the Charleston area, agrees.

"Lack of care, lack of paying attention, and so many divots and potholes [on I-526]," he said. "How many tire blowouts [can] you have on that road because of the conditions? We're so far behind other states it's not even funny."

Erin Miller recently moved from New York to South Carolina. When asked about the condition of the roadways she rated them as being a four on a 10-point scale in comparison to her home state.

"I thought they were a little rough," she said.

And I-526's issues are not just anecdotal either.

The highway was the subject of more than half of all damage claims paid by SCDOT last year in Charleston County. The department paid out $18,255 in 2022 for 33 claims due to I-526's condition, more than half of all damage claims submitted to and compensated by the transportation agency last year, according to the Charleston TV station.

Earlier this year, Kelly Moore, SCDOT's director of public engagement, said the agency was "aware of deferred maintenance" and has been working to catch up as part of a 10-year plan that began seven years ago.

SCDOT put 50 percent of the new funding the department received from its 12-cent gas tax aside for resurfacing South Carolina roadways, 80 percent of which needed repaving work. That means drivers in the state already paid the $10.3 million to fund the resurfacing for I-526 at the fuel pump.

Road improvements to the freeway do not just stop at the surface level either.

Multiple studies are currently under way to help figure out a plan to alleviate the congestion that continues to plague the highway, including the dangerous interchange between I-26 and I-526.

As for the cost, WCSC-TV found that drivers are not too worried as long as they do not have to put up their own cash for damage caused by the roads.

The entire resurfacing project is expected to be finished before the fall, according to the construction contract.

So far, $2.5 billion from the new state gas tax has funded more than 7,000 mi. of South Carolina pavement projects, said SCDOT's Moore.




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