It’s known as Malfunction Junction. The intersection in northwest Columbia where Interstates 26 and 20 cross in Columbia has been a decades-long headache for Midlands drivers.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation is working on a plan to improve the interchanges, infamous for traffic congestion and confusion.
SCDOT is hosting a public meeting Thursday to show its preferred alternative for the project, known as “Carolina Crossroads” as it gathers public comments and input before finalizing the plan. It will be the largest infrastructure project in state history.
“We’ve hit a major milestone in having a public hearing and having a draft environmental impact statement to show to the public,” Project Manager Brian Klauk said.
“The comments we get from the public are a really important part of how we make decisions about highway improvements,” Klauk said. “The comments will be engaged with our whole environmental and engineering process and it’s part of what we do to make those decisions about how we improve the highways in the state.”
Addressing the problem is part of the DOT’s 10-year Strategic Plan.
“It’s a long time coming,” Klauk said. “So we’re really excited to come to the public and show them our proposed solution to fixing Malfunction Junction.”
This will be the fourth public meeting regarding the plan. However, it will be the first since SCDOT settled on its preferred alternative.
“We’ve taken all of our engineering and environmental design to date, together with public comments, and we’ve narrowed it down from a very wide range of solutions down to one single solution that we’re presenting to the public for their comment,” Klauk said.
Among the proposals included in the preferred alternative: eliminating cloverleaf exit and entrance ramps from Interstate 26 at Lake Murray Boulevard, Harbison Boulevard, Saint Andrews Road and Interstate 20. An additional travel lane will be added to I-26 in both directors through the I-20 interchange and merging traffic will be given more room to merge without having to cross exiting traffic. The Bush River Road access to I-26 will be moved closer to I-126.
“We have a lot of ways for people to engage with the project and tell us their thoughts,” Klauk said. “We really encourage that.”
The meeting is Wednesday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. in a drop-in format. People can participate in public hearings at 12:30, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at Columbia Conference Center on 169 Laurelhurst Avenue in Columbia. Those interested may also submit their comments by mail, email or phone. Click here for information regarding submitting comments. Comments are accepted through September 17.
“Everything that’s going to be at the public meeting is going to be online, so that includes a map of the proposed solution. It includes the entire draft environmental impact statement and many other things,” Klauk said.
Construction is expected to begin in 2019.