FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Millions of federal dollars are pouring into the City of Florence to widen South Cashua Drive for a 2.1-mile stretch to Celebration Boulevard. The $13.5 million project is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration that will turn the one-way road into a four-lane highway.
SCDOT Resident Engineer Phil Bethea, who is overseeing the project, said it has been three years in the making to receive the funds and engineering approval and the main goal is to alleviate traffic congestion.
"Also, a lot of accidents happen because of the two-lane road. And there are so many businesses that people have to turn left or turn right, and that way people can turn without traffic interfering up behind them so traffic can move smoothly," said Phil Bethea.
SCDOT crews are laying down storm drain pipes and relocating utilities, which Bethea said will take a while before asphalt work begins.
"Then we will be starting to construct sidewalk and curb and gutter all throughout the project. And then you can look for us adding rock sub grade to put asphalt on top of. And then later on the end of the project, closer toward 2019, you'll start seeing a lot of asphalt to finish up the project," Bethea said.
Multiple businesses line Cashua Drive and have some concerns about the duration of the construction project. Bruce Mullins has owned Mullins Tool Rental the past 39 years. "I don't see a whole lot of good coming from it really, but they are spending the money," said Bruce Mullins.
Parking spots will be removed and Mullins said he is worried about losing business.
"There's a lot more projects that are more worthwhile and we needed them more, you know," Mullins said. He added it has already been a frustrating time since construction began. "The electric has gone out a couple times where they had to move the wires and the poles, so I don't see where they are going to gain anything, because it's just going to be a parking lot out there."
Mullins added he is concerned about Cashua Drive turning into the Five Points area.
"People always want to stay away from there and go around to 76 because you wait in traffic for 15 minutes," he said,
SCDOT is building new sidewalks on both sides of Cashua Drive, along with pedestrian and handicap ramps to cross the road. Bethea said that is to improve safety for both the businesses and Delmae Heights Elementary School. Crews are not relocating any of the side roads but Bethea said to watch out for work on those roads leading onto Cashua Drive.
"The side roads coming in through there like Parker, Parkland, Knollwood, Third loop, Second Loop," Bethea said. "Then we will be re-doing all the traffic signals along the project and adding additional traffic signals on Jefferson and McCown Drive.
As for parking loss, Bethea said businesses are compensated for parking that is removed and SCDOT is trying to accommodate as much as possible..
SCDOT urges drivers to drive slow, watch out for the lane closures and be mindful of construction workers. Completion date on the project is set for October 2019.