Columbia County plans road widening, shifts due to development

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A new Lowe's will open in Columbia County in early 2007, but the new traffic trouble starts even sooner.

It's happening along Washington Road at the already busy intersection with Belair Road.

And Lowe's is just the beginning of the development.

The county has already started the work on Washington Road. The entire area will be under construction soon to keep up with the Lowe's traffic, and that means more delays for your commute.

We asked driver Ladiese Satchel if there was too much traffic in the area already. "Yes!" she told us. She and her family already have a long commute.

Traffic engineer Ronnie Hutto is trying his best to keep up with it all.

"There's going to be a delay due to paving," he says, "and we ask them to be cautious when they travel."

Hutto says they plan to expand part of Industrial to six lanes, add multiple turn lanes in and out of the parking lot, and move Old Evans Road to a new intersection with a new light. He says the end product will keep Lowe's traffic from clogging this intersection even more.

"About 100 cars go through this intersection at every light as it is now, 3600 cars come through here every day."

That number will be a lot higher once the Lowe's is finished.

"A lot more congested!" says driver Robert Young.

"I think people will get used to the flow and it won't be a problem," driver Dennis Estep says.

Columbia County also met with Home Depot representatives who may want to build on the old Evans Middle School land right across the street from Lowe's.

Ladiese Satchel welcomes the progress.

"As far as traffic!" she says. "But as far as another Lowes...yes!"

The county tells us Home Depot has looked at that property, but there has not been any paperwork for it at this time. As for the road construction, traffic engineers say most of it should be done in the fall, but they still need funding to expand Industrial Park Drive to six lanes.