Dec. 7, 2009
SANTEE -- The interchange upgrade for Interstate 95 and U.S. 301 would "in reality, be a game changer for this region," Sen. John W. Matthews of Bowman said during the public information meeting held on the project.
State and federal highway transportation officials presented maps depicting four possible interchange options - each of which would extend U.S. 301 to Old Number Six Highway near Naval Station Road on the outskirts of Santee.
Ultimately, only one proposal will be chosen after the S.C. Department of Transportation completes a thorough environmental impact study.
Despite a downturn in the economy, Matthews said the interchange upgrade is a "kind of an investment that will create some jobs -- it's an economic development project. It'll do good for this region, it'll do good for this state, and it'll help us with our inland port," he said.
Concerning the proposed tie-in of U.S. 301 on Old Number Six Highway, Matthews said the thoroughfare will allow the region to be "more competitive in economic development (projects)."
Brian Wilson, who owns commercial property near Naval Station Road, was among those attending the meeting at Lake Marion High School.
Wilson said the proposals are definitely positive ideas for the region and he supports the project.
Randall Young, SCDOT Midlands regional production engineer, said a construction start-date is contingent on available funding. However, if various requests for funding require early deadlines, there's a possibility the project may be expedited, he said.
Young said the next step in the process is for SCDOT to complete a thorough environmental impact study. The completed study will then be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration, he said. The study must be approved by the FHA prior to advancing the project to right-of-way acquisitions, Young said.
At that time, transportation leaders will announce the final proposed interchange upgrade and hold a public hearing, he said.
If the project plans remain on schedule, construction could begin in 2012 and take up to 24 months to complete, Young said.
A total of $12.1 million has been identified for the project; the projected cost is between $30 million and $40 million.