Economic development accelerates I-385 improvements

Compiled by Jacob Levy, SCRN
The South Carolina Department of Transportation is planning to close a 15-mile stretch of northbound Interstate 385 for repairs.  With the anticipated economic growth, engineering analysis says the roads in place would not be adequate to handle the expected increase in traffic over the next 20 to 30 years.
The repairs are expected to start January 2010, and take place from mile marker zero, the Interstate 26 split, to Exit 16 on Highway 101.  The building process will take place in three phases, and is promised to be finished by August 2010. See the full details of the project, including alternate routes.
The first phase is already underway.  Bridge jacking has been taking place since May on bridges in Laurens County that overpass I-385.
Executive Director of Laurens County Development Corporation Marvin Moss says the change of the road name back in the 1980’s is to blame.
“Signs were changed to I-385, but the old 276 did not meet the interstate standards, so the South Carolina Department of Transportation is in the process of, right now, raising bridges to about a two-foot higher level than what they were to meet the interstate standards.”
This stretch of road passes right through the business district of Laurens county, including a large Walmart distribution center, who at first were not happy with the news but have come to understand the need for the upgrade.
“Of course it’s going to be somewhat of an inconvenience for several months, but they understand the need for it and that in the future, by the end of next year, we will have a very good, safe interstate section that runs through Laurens County,” Moss said.
Moss says he believes the repairs will not hurt incoming business, instead it will help it.
“With any projects that we may be working with right now, should they announce in the next month or two, more than likely their buildings would not be completed until after the interstate was re-opened.  Now of course our existing industries are going to have to find a new route,” he said.
According to recent research published in Time Magazine, the interstate highway system is the biggest piece of infrastructure in the United States.