COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — If you’ve complained about the roads and traffic in the Columbia area, you are not alone.
However, Richland County has funded several projects aimed at improving the lives of commuters through a penny sales tax passed in 2012.
“Back in 2012, the communities we serve saw the need to improve transportation throughout our great county and voted to adopt the penny sales tax,” said Overture Walker, Richland County Council chair, at a groundbreaking on Thursday.
Funded by the penny sales tax, the new Richland County project aims to improve one of the busiest intersections in downtown Columbia, Bull Street and Elmwood Avenue.
“This is my way to work, county council meetings and everywhere I go. No one is more familiar with this particular intersection than I am. It’s my life every day,” said District 4 councilman Paul Livingston.
“This project is a capacity increase and a delay decrease,” said Michael Maloney, Richland County Public Works director.
Part of reducing the intersection’s traffic includes adding more lanes for drivers.
“Drivers turning onto Elmwood from Bull Street will have a dedicated right turn lane so they will not have to wait,” said project manager Rasheed Muwwakkil.
“For some, it’s up to two minutes of delay reduction,” Maloney said. “That may make a big difference for commuters and improve growth in the area.”
“It’s going to improve pedestrians as well,” Muwwakkil added.
Construction is set to begin in January and could take up to nine months to complete.
“There will be delays but they will be minimized. We scheduled for most of this work to happen at night when there’s not as much traffic,” Muwwakkil said.
The latest intersection project is not the only one aimed at helping Columbia’s traffic flow.
“We’re improving all over,” Muwwakkil said. “We have more intersection projects, dirt road projects and resurfacing projects throughout the county.”
He says residents will see additional improvements to the county thanks to projects that are still yet to be announced.
“The penny is moving forward. We have a lot of projects coming along,” the project manager said. “We have a lot of projects in design. Once they finish the design, we will move into construction.”