Published on December 16th, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
Bluff Road widening effort underway
Enhanced walkways, lighting highlight first phase of Penny Transportation project
Construction on the first phase of a project to widen Bluff Road near Williams-Brice Stadium is underway.
The work is the latest major effort of the Richland County Penny Transportation Program and is designed to increase pedestrian safety and improve traffic flow along the major sports and recreational hub around the stadium and nearby South Carolina State Fairgrounds.
The project ultimately will expand the road from Rosewood Drive to Interstate-77 and will include a center turn lane with pedestrian and bike paths as well as enhanced lighting.
“We are extremely excited about this major widening project, which shows our commitment in delivering on our promise to our citizens,” said Rob Perry, Richland County transportation director.
The first phase of the widening will extend from Rosewood Drive to George Rogers Boulevard and is expected to be completed by the end of next summer. Richland County Council recently awarded a $5,515,719 contract to Cherokee Inc. to complete the first phase.
Construction on the second phase of the project, from National Guard Road to South Beltline Boulevard, is expected to begin in 2018.
Among the more visible highlights of the first phase will be a 10-foot wide concrete pedestrian and bicycle path from Rosewood Drive to George Rogers Boulevard along the State Fair property. There also will be an 8-foot wide pathway for walkers and bikers on the opposite side of Bluff Road, and an 8-foot wide sidewalk will be added along Rosewood Drive from the fair’s north gate to Bluff Road.
Other equally functional but less noticeable improvements will include a storm water run-off drainage system and the relocation of several overhead utilities underground.
There will be periodic lane closures throughout both phases of the project and each will be announced in advance. But the completed work should be a welcomed addition to motorists and pedestrians.
The daily traffic count along the stretch of Bluff Road is approximately 21,500 vehicles per day. The number of vehicles increases significantly during football games and the annual fair each October. The daily traffic count along the road is expected to increase to 27,500 vehicles per day in 2037.
Perry credited the collaborative efforts of the State Fair, the City of Columbia, and the University of South Carolina – along with the SCDOT – for making the project a reality.
The State Fair donated roughly 8 feet of property along Rosewood Drive and Bluff Road for the walkway, the city of Columbia will maintain lighting along the road, and USC coordinated crosswalk locations with the county to ensure pedestrians can cross the roads safely.
“I have nothing but praise for the Penny Tax Program and well as to the other partners for helping make this project a reality,” said State Fair manager, Gary Goodman. “This will greatly improve the pedestrian experience along Bluff Road and Rosewood Drive.”
The Bluff Road project is the first road widening project in the Transportation Penny Program that county voters approved in 2012.
The Penny Program includes such projects as road widenings, intersection improvements, sidewalks, bikeways, dirt road paving and greenways throughout Richland County during a 22-year period or until $1.07 billion in sales tax revenue is collected.
The Bluff Road contract has multiple funding sources that include Transportation Penny funds, state gasoline tax funds and federal dollars.
“The County is elated to deliver one of the first road widening projects in the Richland County Transportation Program to construction,” Perry said. “We look forward to completing this portion of the project prior to the next USC football season and State Fair for our citizens.”