(ColaDaily.com) Approximately 35,000 to 62,000 cars travel an 11-mile stretch of Interstate 20 in Lexington County each day, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Transportation. With that number expected to reach 94,000 vehicles by 2037, the agency is moving forward with widening the interstate and improving major interchanges.
Officials held a community meeting Thursday at Meadow Glen Middle School to answer questions about the project. SCDOT Project Manager Brad Reynolds said construction is slated to begin next summer and is expected to last up to 36 months.
SCDOT officials have proposed widening I-20 from U.S. Highway 378 to Longs Pond Road from four lanes to six travel lanes. The widening would occur within the existing median.
“I think this is a project most people will want,” Reynolds said.
Officials plan to keep lanes open during peak hours as much as possible, but closures and reduced speed limits could occur at night.
“It will be a construction zone,” Reynolds said.
One aspect of the project will shield homeowners from the sounds of the road as the traffic count rises. SCDOT officials have proposed a noise wall along Ginny Lane, which runs parallel to I-20.
Heather Robbins, an environmental official with SCDOT, said the wall’s placement was determined by the high-density neighborhoods and two schools on Ginny Lane. The wall is estimated to reduce noise from the interstate 25 percent or more.
“As soon as it goes up, people will notice a difference,” Robbins said.
Robbins said it is not clear at at what point during the construction process that the wall will be built. She said it is still a tentative part of the overall project but that the wall likely will be constructed unless residents come out strongly against it.
Jacob Haltiwanger, who uses the Longs Pond Road exit to get home, said he thinks the widening project to be a big need for the area.
“Hopefully it will make things flow better,” he said.
Haltiwanger said the interchange improvements in particular will make a significant difference for commuters. The project includes extending exit ramps at Longs Pond Road and U.S. Highway 1 and the entrance and exit ramps at U.S. Highway 6. SCDOT officials also are planning to make safety improvements at Highway 1.
The total project cost is estimated at $86.2 million and is to be funded by dollars approved for high-priority interstate infrastructure needs.
Comments on the proposed plan will be accepted until April 17. The comment card and the map of the proposed project can be found here.