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Motorists to see I-20 exit improvements

Posted: February 14, 2018 - 2:22am

Motorists might soon get some relief at two highly congested areas along Interstate 20 in Columbia County.

The county has permits and funding in place to begin temporary modifications for better traffic flow at Exit 190 at Grovetown and Exit 183 at Appling/Harlem, Engineering and Traffic Director Steve Cassell said.

"There's a lot of pavement out there that's stripped out. So what we are going to do is try to utilize that a little better to get some extra flow through there," Cassell said of Exit 190.

Cassell said the plan is to widen the roads on both sides of the interchange between Lewiston Road and Horizon South Parkway to allow two lanes of travel.

"Especially down by the Circle K where there is kind of a bottleneck there. We will extend that widening to that little corner," Cassell said, creating a second lane for traffic exiting the interstate.

On the other side of the interchange, striping will be removed to open up a second lane next to Wal-Mart leading to the eastbound onramp.

"At that point we will have the ability to carry two lanes all the way through the intersection to William Few Parkway and carry two lanes all the way to Gateway," Cassell said.

Not only does the exit cause dangerous conditions, but Cassell said traffic often backs up to other areas such as Belair and Columbia roads as motorists seek alternative routes to avoid the bottleneck at Grovetown.

Cassell said the county went to the state Department of Transportation last year looking for a temporary solution to the dangerous conditions that often leave cars backed up for nearly two miles at Exit 190, parked on the shoulder of I-20.

Transportation officials agreed the problem could not wait for the construction of a diverging diamond interchange planned to begin there in 2019. Similar issues plague motorists at Exit 183, where two roundabouts and a bridge widening are planned after 2020 to eliminate the limited sight distance exiting the westbound ramp.

Cassell said the state DOT awarded a $200,000 grant to fund the beginning of the $800,000 project to widen and extend roads in the two areas. The remaining cost will be reimbursed as part of a future project funded by the Transportation Investment Act.

Widening work at westbound Exit 183 has been completed, and Cassell said crews began work Monday at the Grovetown exit.

The work is expected to take about 90 days, if weather is good. Cassell said motorists will not likely see traditional road-widening work.

"It's not a long project," Cassell said. "You probably won't see a lot until they get into the paving aspect of it, and the goal there is to do it outside of peak times and temperatures permitting."

The setup at the westbound exit ramp at Exit 190 is designed to allow cars to merge, but Cassell said motorists are staying in one lane.

"The biggest issues that exist out there right now is the right lane drops on Lewiston on both sides after you cross the interchange. So, what's happening is people are making their lane choices well in advance. They don't want to merge. So I've got two lanes of traffic, but everybody is only using one," Cassell said.

"People coming off the freeway are not turning right until they can get a gap in the left lane, because they know that lane drops, as well as coming off William Few. So the only people using those drop lanes are the more aggressive drivers."

Cassell said the goal is to always keep motorists safe and he believes the work will bring the necessary results.

"I am really confident and excited about the project. It's a very important project. You'll be surprised what it will do," he said.

 

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