The two ends of Belair Road are finally connected.
The Belair Road Connector has been open for about the past two weeks, though work continues to even the road's grade and stripe the three-lane stretch, Columbia County pre-construction engineer Ronnie Hutto said. After that is complete, final programming of traffic signals and detail work such as grassing the roadside slopes will finish the project.
The new thoroughfare provides a three-lane, uninterrupted stretch of road from the intersection of Washington and Belair roads with Industrial Park Drive all the way to the Northwood subdivision on North Belair Road.
With the connector, drivers headed toward Furys Ferry Road from Belair Road no longer have to turn left onto Washington Road and make an immediate right back onto North Belair.
"We're building it under traffic and we appreciate the people being very courteous while we are trying to finish the paving," Hutto said. So far, he said traffic moves well on the road even though usage is heavy.
"Based on the use I would say they (drivers) are delighted it is there," Hutto said. "Traffic is extremely heavy on it."
One resident who is not happy about the new road is Northwood resident Beverly Turbyfill. The teacher and mother of three says the connector actually makes it more difficult for her to reach the Columbia County Library and stores such as Kroger and Wal-Mart.
To tie the connector into North Belair Road, the county created a three-way intersection with a traffic signal. Motorists headed north from the library must turn left to stay on North Belair. Turbyfill said the light, where she has seen traffic back up all the way to the library's entrance, adds time to her trip.
Turbyfill said many of her neighbors also are unhappy.
"We're all kind of groaning (about the change)," she said.
As work continues on the road, Hutto urged drivers to use caution and pay close attention to avoid wrecks and injuries.
Not far from the Belair Connector project, work continues on the rerouted intersection of Old Evans and Washington roads in Evans. That project, which is associated with the new Lowe's store, will redirect Old Evans through the former parking lot of The Pizza Joint and move the parking lot to the current location of Old Evans Road.
According to information provided by Hull Storey Development, the design of the intersection includes a traffic signal and will provide an additional point of access to the new Lowe's store.
Kendal Jones, a vice president for Hull Storey, has said the traffic signal will make the intersection safer and will reduce traffic on Industrial Park Drive by diverting some of the store's traffic down Old Evans Road. The project has a scheduled completion date of Oct. 6.
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