The S.C. Department of Transportation says the planned widening of Interstate 26 in Calhoun and Lexington counties could begin in late spring 2013.
The project, with an estimated cost of $99 million, would widen a 10-mile stretch of I-26 to three lanes in each direction from the I-77 interchange to Old Sandy Run Road at exit 125.
The road will be repaved and improved between I-77 and Caw Caw Road at exit 136.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in late spring 2013 and last 30 months to three years, S.C. Department of Transportation Program Manager Kevin Gantt said.
“The scope of the project has not changed,” he said.
Gantt said funds will be released for the project before September of this year and a contract is expected to be issued in January.
“I assume it will take the team four to six months to mobilize,” he said.
S.C. DOT officials say the purpose of the project is to increase traffic capacity, reduce congestion and improve safety. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, I-26 south of Columbia has become one of the most dangerous stretches of the highway due to the increased number of crashes in recent years.
The average annual daily traffic count along I-26 in Calhoun County exceeds 50,000 vehicles, according to the S.C. DOT website.
The lanes will be widened into the median, so no additional land should be required for the right-of-way.
Other parts of the project include replacement of the westbound bridge over CSX Railroad near Dixiana and raising the bridge on Old Wire Road over I-26 for safe clearance.
S.C. DOT officials want to keep traffic flowing during construction. To achieve this, two travel lanes in each direction will be kept open during the day, with limited lane closures at night. The Old Wire Road bridge will be closed with traffic detoured for the duration of construction.
Existing lanes of I-26 will be resurfaced, damaged guardrails will be replaced and slopes and shoulders will be upgraded to meet current interstate standards.