S.C. Department of Transportation, Richland County teaming to widen road
More than 30,000 vehicles travel a seven-mile stretch of Hard Scrabble Road in northeast Richland County each day. More often than not, it’s a frustrating trip for the people in those cars, trucks and vans who find themselves doing more waiting than driving on the two-lane road.
Help has arrived.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation is partnering with the Richland County Transportation Program to widen and improve Hard Scrabble Road between Farrow and Kelly Mill roads. Local leaders, including members of the South Carolina legislature, Richland County Council members, SCDOT representatives and Richland School District 2 board members gathered Wednesday, Oct. 11, to celebrate the beginning of the project at a groundbreaking ceremony at Rehoboth Baptist Church.
“This is an example of the partnership between the state and local government to meet the needs of citizens,” said David Beaty, Richland County Transportation Program manager. “This is one of the largest projects in the penny referendum program.”
The $85 million project includes widening Hard Scrabble Road to five lanes (including a center turn lane), curbs, sidewalks, bicycle lanes and intersection improvements. It also includes widening one bridge and building another.
“There will be obvious positive impacts,” said Jim Manning, Richland County Council member and chairman of the transportation ad hoc committee. “It will lessen congestion, improve safety for pedestrians and bicycles. It will improve the quality of life for the citizens who live, work, visit and shop in this area.
“This is us working together; several layers of government are working together. It’s a perfect example of public and private partnership,” Manning added.
Two schools in Richland School District 2 are located directly on Hard Scrabble Road — Ridge View High and Rice Creek Elementary. Several others are located near the construction zone, and parents and buses use Hard Scrabble road to get to those schools as well as Ridge View and Rice Creek.
“The No. 1 concern for me, when you’re talking about students, is safety; not just keeping students safe at school, but getting them there safely,” Richland District 2 board chairman, Craig Plank said.
Understandably, construction will obviously create traffic problems, even as it works to alleviate them. Plank said Richland 2 has planned for that, altering some bus routes and finding other ways to help students and parents navigate during construction.
Ridge View High assistant principal Marlon Thomas said the widening project would help the entire community.
“It will definitely help with the traffic flow,” Thomas said. “We hope it will help kids with better attendance and reduce the number of tardies.”
The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020. As commuters deal with the construction, the key is to remember the long-term benefits that will impact the community once the project is complete — and to be patient, leaders said.
“It’s going to be amazing,” S.C. Senator Mia McLeod said. “It’s going to be a phenomenal opportunity for this area.”
When completed, it will be a “beautiful pathway” through the area that will bring more economic growth and safety.
“So many of our children who live in this community will be affected by this project and the end result of widening this road,” said Calvin “Chip” Jackson, Richland County Council member. “It will mean a complete transformation.”
In several ways.
“It’s going to be a economic boon for the entire community,” said Samuel Glover, SCDOT commissioner. “Five-six years from now, you will not believe the growth that will take place.”
But community members will not have to wait that long to reap the benefits, said Ivory Torrey Thigpen, S.C. Representative and pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church. Thigpen said when campaigning for his legislative seat, he consistently heard concerns about roads and traffic.
“People are concerned about getting home and getting to work,” he said.
The widening of Hard Scrabble will help thousands of people get to where they need to go quicker, and more safely. “It will give people more time, more time to spend with families. Lives are going to be saved, when emergency vehicles can get down Hard Scrabble Road more efficiently,” Thigpen said.
The community will see immediate benefits, said Jennifer Necker, program manager for SCDOT.
“It will be a huge benefit to the community, especially during rush hour, and school drop off and pick up times,” Necker said. “We’re adding two lanes in each direction plus a center turn lane. It’s definitely going to improve safety and make it easier to travel.
“We just ask for a lot of patience while constructing is going.”
Richland County Transportation Program is funding $29.86 million of the $85 million project.
This project is among millions of dollars in transportation and commuter improvements being made possible through the county Transportation Program approved by voters in November 2012.
The program includes such projects as road widenings, intersection improvements, sidewalks, bikeways, dirt road paving and greenways throughout Richland County during a 22-year period or until $1.07 billion in sales tax revenue is collected.