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William Few Parkway extension will relieve traffic congestion on Washington Road

Completion of roadway should ease traffic congestion at schools

Posted: January 4, 2015 - 12:09am
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The new section of William Few Parkway between Riverwood Parkway and Hardy McManus Road should ease Washington Road traffic.
The new section of William Few Parkway between Riverwood Parkway and Hardy McManus Road should ease Washington Road traffic.

The hundreds of students, teachers and parents who travel to and from Greenbrier schools should have easier commutes this week.

After 18 months of construction, the William Few Parkway extension opened last week, giving those with addresses off Hardy-McManus Road a more direct route to the school complex and to Columbia Road.

“You are going to hear a lot of people who will be very happy about the completion of this project,” said Columbia County pre-construction engineer Ronnie Hutto, who has been working on the extension since it was first conceived more than decade ago.

Hutto estimated that the new section could handle more than 21,000 vehicles per day when it reaches peak capacity, which should be years to come.

The 1.3-mile section, which runs from Riverwood Drive, across Euchee Creek, to connect with Hardy McManus Road at Grace Baptist Church, officially opened to traffic on Tuesday afternoon. Along the way, the project had to clear numerous hurdles, including replacing consultants and engineers, changing the scope of the project midway, and resubmitting environmental assessments.

County Engineering Services Director Matt Schlachter said since most of the extension goes through a wetlands area, and since federal funding was used to pay for the project, there were years of environmental impact studies and permitting to negotiate before the first shovel of earth could be turned.

“The permitting was the biggest problem,” he said. “We had to go through a lot of environmental permitting before we got started.”

Schlachter said one big setback had to do with the fluctuations in rainfall the area has seen in recent years. The survey of wetlands that had to be conducted before permits could be issued was done in the midst of a multi-year drought. By the time federal regulators were ready to evaluate the plan, the drought had ended and an new wetlands survey had to be initiated, he said.

“We got all this rainfall and the wetlands changed. They got bigger on us,” Schlachter said. “That was a major delay for us.”

Schlachter said the $8 million in construction costs were funded by a federal grant. In addition to that, he said the county spent roughly $1.75 million on designing the project and acquiring right of way.

Officials expect to see an immediate relief to traffic congestion on Washington Road, which will be needed even more as another road project to widen that state route progresses over the next two years. Schlachter said officials held off on some of the Washington Road construction work until the William Few extension was completed.

“We decided it would be best to stop lane closures on Washington Road until William Few was done,” he said.

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Comments (1)

EdRenton

This is good news. They have

This is good news. They have been able to solve the traffic problem in the area. It's a nice effort of the group. - Dennis Wong YOR Health