Aiken gets funds to ease problems on car-clogged Whiskey Road

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - We first told you six years ago about plans to ease traffic on Whiskey Road with a connector to Powderhouse and Pine Log Road.

Fast-forward to now, and we still haven’t seen one built.

Last year, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham asked for $8 million in federal funding to get the project moving.

On Thursday, the silence ended. The mayor, city manager and other city leaders announced they received the last bit of funding to complete this project.

It will be a limited access road that connects Whiskey Road with an undeveloped property at Oak Grove Road near Old Powderhouse Road and ending at East Pinelog Road.

The project is projected to reduce traffic on Whiskey Road by as much as 24 percent.

Powderhouse Connector Project
Powderhouse Connector Project(Contributed)

A local driver says it’s good news.

“If we plan on going through Whiskey Road, we have to expect that there’s going to be congestion,” said Aiken Resident Ronald Shepherd.

Shepherd says he lives in a neighborhood near Whiskey Road, travels it multiple times a day, and already takes some cut-throughs.

He’s hopeful this will alleviate traffic on these roads.

“We have to alleviate that to improve the safety and improve the quality of life for our community,” he said.

Thursday’s announcement is the first step in doing that.

City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said: “We are going to be receiving about $21 million worth of funding from the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which will allow for the construction.”

This rounds out the rest of the funding for the estimated $37 million total price tag. It follows the $8 million Graham’s office requested in 2021 and the $7 million allotted from the local capital tax in 2018.

Securing this funding has been years in the making.

“This project first came to light in 2006 with a study of that area. The city has been actively working on funding this project since 2016,” said Bedenbaugh.

Once finished, the mayor says it will relieve a good portion of the traffic, and drivers are hopeful for the project’s potential.

Mayor Rick Osbon said: “It’s a relief of up to 24 percent of traffic in the most congested area in our city, so we’re very excited about the possibility of this.”

Shepherd said: “I think a connector could certainly eliminate some of the traffic on Whiskey Road, as well as some frontage roads that could eliminate some of the traffic on there.”

The city says they plan to start breaking ground on the project by April. They say they estimate the project will take about five years to complete and will be completed in two phases. The first phase will connect South Centennial Avenue, off of Corporate Parkway, to Whiskey Road at East Gate Drive. The second phase will connect Powderhouse Road with Whiskey Road at East Gate Drive, according to a release.

S.C. State Sen. Tom Young and some members of the city council were in attendance.