McClennen column: Rerouting IL road would ease traffic

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Columnist Donna McClennen is an Indian Land resident.

There was a potential solution to some of the school traffic woes that may have slipped away, which many in the community may not have been aware of.
The S.C. Department of Transportation held a hearing in January 2013 regarding rerouting Harrisburg Road. Harrisburg Road could have been rerouted to line up with the main Lowe’s entrance on S.C. 160. This also would have become a lighted intersection.
This would have accomplished several things. It would have allowed traffic on S.C. 160 to turn left onto Harrisburg Road, which is now blocked by the median. The dangerous solution to that is vehicles making U-turns at the intersection of S.C. 160 and U.S. 521. The median blocks left turns from traffic coming from Harrisburg Road back onto S.C. 160, preventing access to U.S. 521 unless one uses the Lowe’s parking lot as a cut-through.
No left turn from S.C. 160 onto Harrisburg Road means traffic coming up S.C. 160 to the new school must turn left on Barberville or Calvin Hall roads to get to Harrisburg Road.
Another option is go all the way to U.S. 521, turn left, and then cut back through the shopping center, other stores or banks on U.S. 521 that have rear exits onto Harrisburg. A third option is to go down to the light at Walmart and turn left, or cut through Bridgehampton to get to Harrisburg. This is what most residents at the recent meeting expressed concerned about.
Harrisburg Road runs almost parallel to U.S. 521. It would seem beneficial to have rerouted Harrisburg Road to a lighted intersection on S.C. 160. That would take some of the traffic heading toward the school off of Calvin Hall and, more importantly, it would give drivers an easy route to follow Harrisburg Road back out to S.C. 160, with the ability to turn either left or right at a lighted intersection. It is almost impossible to turn left from Calvin Hall onto S.C. 160 during rush hours.
I was in favor of rerouting this road because we have commercial property we are trying to sell on S.C. 160. The rerouting of Harrisburg Road would have made our parcel a corner lot at a lighted intersection. This would have benefited us personally as we lost frontage with the acquisition for the widening of S.C. 160. Even worse, when they put in the unnecessary median, we lost access to turn left onto our property as did several others along the highway. There are many more heavily traveled roads, like the Pine-ville-Matthews Road, that don’t have medians blocking access to commercial properties.
In conversations with the SCDOT project manager, he said most of the letters he received were from landowners who would have been negatively affected by the rerouting of Harrisburg Road. These are families who have owned and lived on these properties for many years.
I can sympathize with them as our land was also negatively affected by the widening of the highway. We lost frontage and access from one direction. We lost our peace and quiet with semi-trucks barreling up and down five lanes of the newly widened highway and the construction of the Lowe’s across the street in what was once a quiet wooded area. We moved and rebuilt to escape the noise, traffic and surrounding commercialism after having lived in our home for more than 20 years.
Nevertheless, it was in the community’s best interest to reroute Harrisburg Road to come out at a lighted intersection at S.C. 160 at the main entrance of Lowe’s, especially with the construction of the new elementary school. This would have made it possible to turn left or right onto S.C. 160 from Harrisburg Road at a lighted intersection.
This also would make it possible to get back to U.S. 521 from Harrisburg Road via S.C. 160, which is not possible now without cutting through the Lowe’s parking lot. This would not have been in the best interest of several of the landowners whose property would have been negatively affected. It never is.
My understanding from SCDOT is that since this was not done at the time of the original widening of S.C. 160, it may be 15 years before the issue comes up again or before there is funding for it.
So for those traveling S.C. 160 to get to the new elementary school, you will have to rely on Barberville Road, Calvin Hall or U.S. 521. Traveling U.S. 521 again will require drivers to turn left to get to Harrisburg by cutting through shopping centers, banks, small rural roads, Bridgehampton or any other available rural road. Drivers do have the option to turn left onto S.C. 160 from U.S. 521 and take an immediate right to get to Harrisburg. That option is not available when returning from Harrisburg Road to S.C. 160 because the median prevents a left turn.
I don’t know if anything can be done to resurrect the proposed rerouting of Harrisburg Road or if funding can be found. But it surely would help traffic flow to and from the new elementary school and give drivers a better and safer option than looking for cut-throughs and making U-turns at large, busy intersections.