DOT discusses proposed changes to SC 125

A proposed future for two of North Augusta's busiest roads was the central topic Oct. 30 at the North Augusta Community Center, as representatives of the Department of Transportation made themselves available to address proposed changes to East Buena Vista Avenue and Atomic Road in North Augusta.

The two roads, which are both a portion of SC 125, have been identified by the Augusta Regional Transportation Study as, "an area in need of operational improvements," as stated in a DOT handout.

Intersection improvements are at the proposed project's core.

"This includes providing turn lanes and improving turning radii to accommodate the present and future turning movements," according to the handout.

Kevin Gantt, a program manager with DOT, was among department employees on hand to field questions and hear from the public on local historic or cultural resources.

"Right now, we have a two-lane section that we're going to widen to three, and then, when we turn and go up Atomic Road, we'll make improvements there and have a multi-lane path and also sidewalks on either side of the road," Gantt said,

Plans are to take public input from the meeting, reconcile the comments, acquire the necessary rights-of-way and begin construction in early 2014.

Roads to be possibly affected via their intersections with SC 125 include Victoria Lane, Brookside Avenue, Riverside Boulevard, Mealing Avenue, Burnside Avenue, Metz Drive, East Martintown Road and Old Edgefield Road.

Attending the informational meeting was Skip Grkovic, who retired in 2011 as North Augusta's director of economic and community development and is now serving as a project manager.

He described the development as "the biggest improvement to this end of North Augusta in a very, very long time, especially for the people who live down there."

Grkovic pointed out that the proposed improvements for Buena Vista and Atomic Road projects have both been on the long-range plan for transportation improvements for at least 20 years.

"The two were reduced in scope and combined to make it easier to get it done," said Grkovic.

Increased traffic is a major motivator, as is the desire to have more sidewalks and a greenway section, with bicycle transportation being accommodated in the process. For comparison, he cited a side-trail on Knox Avenue, offering an option for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Recommended improvements are based on a DOT traffic study from May 20, 2010, with consideration given to current traffic volume and turning movements as well as those that are forecast to be in play in the year 2032, according to a DOT handout.

Information from the event, including diagrammed aerial photos of the areas to be affected, are available at www.scdot.org/inside/public_hearings.aspx.

Comments can be sent to Gantt by mail to SCDOT, P.O. Box 191, Columbia, SC 29202, by fax to (803) 737-1510 or email ganttkl@scdot.org.