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Traffic signal hung at troublesome Grovetown intersection

Posted: September 25, 2013 - 12:01am
A worker installs a trafic light at the intersection of Lewiston Road at William Few Parkway. Photo by Jim Blaylock
A worker installs a trafic light at the intersection of Lewiston Road at William Few Parkway. Photo by Jim Blaylock

Grovetown area motorists used to get stuck in traffic on Lewiston Road and William Few Parkway can expect some relief soon.

A traffic light was installed at the intersection last week and construction on the widening and addition lanes will begin soon, said Matt Schlachter, Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Division director.

“That’s going to be a great addition to the area,” said Blanchard and Calhoun real estate agent Brian Appel, who represents homes in several neighborhoods off William Few Parkway including Chamblin Ridge and Ashbrooke. “Having the stop light is the best thing to happen to that area.”

Schlachter said county officials have been planning improvements for the frequently-gridlocked intersection for years.

He expects construction to be complete and the traffic signal to be operational in about six weeks.

“Even though the lights are hanging, we still have a good bit of work to do,” Schlachter said.

The $307,000 project, paid for with one-cent sales tax funds, includes widening and adding right turn lanes to Lewiston Road, adding turn lanes on William Few Parkway and installing traffic signals to better manage frequent rush-hour back-ups.

The project, which has been in the design process for a few years, changed drastically after state Department of Transportation officials backed off extensive and expensive requirements for the county to completely rework nearly a mile of Lewiston Road to include the intersection. A project approved as part of the Transportation Investment Act will widen the road from Interstate 20 to Columbia Road within the next 10 years.

“We fought with DOT and fought with DOT until we were able to convince them to give us a permit to put a signal there,” Schlachter said. “They backed off. ... We had to back up and redesign to get the bare bones minimum to get the signal installed.”

The area on and surrounding William Few Parkway is the fastest growing area of the county, and Development Services Division Director Richard Harmon has said he anticipates more new homes to be built as Fort Gordon is expected to grow by about 10,000 soldiers and civilian employees.

Appel said despite backed up traffic during peak times, the real problem is making a left from William Few Parkway onto Lewiston Road.

“Anybody who wants to turn onto Lewiston Road from William Few has to wait until the cross traffic stops,” Appel said. “Really, a lot of times, you can’t pull out onto Lewiston Road, especially if you want to take a left, without (fellow motorists) waving you across.”

Once construction is complete, the traffic signal will flash for three days before going operational.

Improvements won’t stop on the east end of William Few Parkway. County officials recently approved a roundabout to be designed to replace the blinking red light at the three-way intersection at Chamblin Road.

Work recently began to extend William Few Parkway past its current dead end at Riverwood Drive, across Euchee Creek, to connect with Hardy McManus Road at Grace Baptist Church. That project has been in the works for nearly 20 years, but has hit several speed bumps along the way.

“They just started clearing right now,” Schlachter said.

It will eventually include a two-lane highway with a center turn lane, with shoulders wide enough so it could be restriped to become a four-lane if needed. The centerpiece will be a 600-foot long bridge. Construction is expected to take about 18 months.

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