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I-95 Business Loop project continues

By Charles Rowland

LOGO 2The sight of orange cones and construction workers laying the curbs and sidewalks along South Jefferies Boulevard for the past several weeks is likely to be with us for a good while longer. Only, there could be much more going on than curbs and sidewalks: the creation of medians, lighting improvements, and signage together with the planting of roadside trees, shrubbery and grass — all the way out to the intersection of Snyders Highway and I-95.
Walterboro City Council met last Thursday to hear and discuss a presentation by the landscape architecture firm Wood+Partners Inc. for its planned streetscape project, often referred to as the “I-95 Business Loop Project.” The stated purpose of the firm’s presentation was to address “how best to spend approximately $6.6 million derived from the capital improvement sales tax.”
The entire planned I-95 Business Loop project stretches from I-95’s exit 53 along Snyders Highway and Jefferies Boulevard, then out the Bells Highway to I-95’s exit 57. The portion from Exit 53 to the intersection of Jefferies Boulevard and the Bells Highway could be completed with the $6.6 million in capital improvement sales tax monies plus another $1.1 million ($100,00 from the Colleton County Transportation Committee; $500,000 from a Community Development Block Grant and $400,000 from a transportation enhancement grant), according to Wood+Partners president Mark Baker. He added that because some monies have already been applied, there would be about $500,000 “left over.”
Baker said that a major aim of the streetscape’s overall design is “to capture travelers on I-95” thus, there would be signage along Snyders Highway and South Jefferies “to point and invite them toward downtown.”
According to the plans, there would be no continuous center median, but sections of medians would be planted with trees and shrubs. Charlie Johnson, of Wood+Partners’ Tallahassee, Fla. office, pointed out that there would be no trees with large trunks — “more like crape myrtles and similar trees with slender branches” for safety and visibility.
Not included in the project as presented, but recommended by the firm to be built at some point, is a sidewalk beginning near Shoney’s restaurant and running along the north side of Snyders Highway toward town. That pedestrian route might include a boardwalk that would tie in with the existing ones in the Great Swamp.
City Council expects to take up the matter for approval or modification in regular council meetings in the near future.
Following the meeting, Walterboro Mayor Bill Young said that the project will not narrow South Jefferies from four lanes to two. Although the city had originally planned to do that, it was decided later that the roadway would remain at four lanes. Young said that people who still haven’t gotten the message need not worry, the roadway will remain at four lanes.

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