Highway 501 widening project pushed back

Hwy 501 widening delayed

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) – The major road project meant to alleviate congestion on busy Highway 501 will take another five months before the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) can start construction.

Mike Barbee with SCDOT says getting approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) for is setting the agency back.

SCDOT has two separately funded projects happening on the same part of Highway 501. The problem, according to Barbee, is that the FHA sees the two as one in the same.

There's the upcoming project to widen the north bound lanes. There is also a separate project slated to start much later, to widen the southbound lanes from Gardner Lacy Road to Highway 31.

The same environmental impacts study already done for the northbound project, now has to be done for the southbound project, before the FHA can give the go ahead. Barbee says this should be resolved soon and construction should start in October.

People who travel Highway 501 frequently, like Brittany Myer who works in Carolina Forest, say they hope there are no more setbacks and are ready to see this project started.

"During the daytime it's really bad. It's usually bumper to bumper," explained Myer.

The Carolina Forest Civic Association pressed SCDOT for a solution, turning the pressure on  after the deadly wreck that killed four year old Jada Bennett last year.

"We do think that it's dangerous. That's why we think it needs to be addressed as soon as it can," said Bo Ives, a board member with the Carolina Forest Civic Association.

Ives says the group will have a public meeting on May 15. A representative with SCDOT will be there to discuss what drivers can expect during construction on Hwy 501.

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