If you have spent even a few minutes driving in or around Greenville County, it should come as no surprise that area roads are in desperate need of repair, and the issue is statewide. Here are some facts to support this contention:
- There has been about a 27% increase in South Carolina road deaths in the past three years.
- In 2015, South Carolina had the highest fatality rate in the nation for miles traveled.
- In 2016, 3,638 claims were filed against the SCDOT by motorists or family members over damage and injuries caused by bad roads.
In a recent interview with Butch Kirven, Chairman of Greenville County Council, The Community Edge learned that the condition of Greenville County roads might be about to improve significantly. Kirven, who also serves as the chairman of the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study Policy Committee (GPATS), informed the Edge that Greenville County has a rare opportunity to get a $168 million infusion for road improvements if a grant is approved by the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SCTIB). A decision is due before the end of September, 2017.
Kirven and a small group of other county council members had been studying the county’s road improvement needs when the grant opportunity arose. They developed a master plan that was presented to the full county council. The plan, which passed unanimously, included the following five projects in the grant request to SCTIB:
- The Woodruff Road Parallel
In the area south of Woodruff Road, there are a lot of “cul-de-sac” neighborhoods that don’t connect to each other, or to any main roads with direct access to Woodruff Road. This project would connect these neighborhoods and tie them into Verdae Blvd. This parallel road will run from Verdae Boulevard to Miller Road in Mauldin. “Additionally, Miller Road will be widened all the way back to Old Mill Road,” Kirven stated.
- Gateway Expansion
This would involve a new interchange at Batesville Road and I-85, near Thornblade. “The inability to get off at Batesville Road is a major contributor to the daily congestion on I-85,” said Kirven.
- West Georgia Road Widening
This widening would be done in segments, starting from I-385 in Simpsonville to US 25. “This road improvement will be a positive benefit to students who attend Greenville Tech’s Brashier campus,” Kirven commented.
- US 25 Improvements
This project would run from Tigerville to the North Carolina state line.
- New I-185 Interchange
This involves a new interchange near the downtown Greenville Hospital System campus. “Among the benefits, it would create a direct path for ambulances,” stated Kirven. “GHS has the only Class 1 trauma center in the region, so the less time it takes to reach it, the more lives are saved,” continued Kirven. Statistics from the Southern Connector Association show that more than 17,000 ambulances traveled the Connector in route to the hospital in 2016.
In summarizing the opportunity to have these projects funded through the grant, Kirven pointed out that “some, all, or none” may be selected. He went on to note the rare opportunity that the grant program affords Greenville County. “We send a lot of money to Columbia for road improvements, but not much comes back. It has been 20 years since Greenville County has been approved for road funding by the SCBIT.”