Interchange project could ease heavy traffic on I-20 stretch

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 11:14 PM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A look over Interstate 20 at Grovetown shows the stretch of highway that was the scene of several crashes over the past few weeks, some deadly, causing pileups and traffic for miles.

Right now, crews with the Georgia Department of Transportation are working on that stretch of highway near exit 190, but that isn’t the only project on the agency’s agenda.

City and state leaders have been telling us about a diverging diamond interchange coming for years now. In fact, voters and approved the transportation tax dollars for it a full ten years ago. That work was scheduled to begin in 20-17 but three years later, nothing has happened.

The portion of Lewiston Road just off of I-20 is no stranger to traffic and accidents.

“We get accidents coming from this direction, we get accidents coming from that direction,” Anisse Harris said.

Both Harris and Lucas Conley work off of exit 190 and see the problems daily.

“I have seen a couple of wrecks out here on this road. It’s just fender-benders and then I’ve seen worse accidents,” Conley said.

They say traffic for most of the day is OK, but in the morning and around 5 p.m., "that’s when a lot of traffic gets bad,” Harris said.

And it has been “getting bad” for years. They’ve known the traffic has outgrown the infrastructure for more than ten years, when voters approved an extra penny tax to pay for the work to fix it.

More than $35 million is going into widening the road and create a diverging diamond interchange pattern.

“You got a bigger city, you’re going to need a lot more streets and a lot more ways for people to get around, and not for everybody to be cramped on top of each other because that’s what’s causing the accidents,” Harris said.

So why the holdup? Columbia County says the funding wasn’t the issue, it was acquiring all the land they needed. But they have all the needed property and were awarded the $25.5 million contract to E.R. Snell Contractors.

So hopefully this diamond won’t be in the rough forever.

So now, they have to move utilities, before they start the road work. But the congestion won’t stop anytime soon, as it’s not expected to be completed until 2023.

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