By Woodrow W. “Woody” Willard, Jr.
The interstate gateway into Greenville will undergo a dramatic change both functionally and aesthetically over the next few years.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is embarking on an historic undertaking at the intersection of Interstates 85 and 385. This vital interchange is being transformed to lessen congestion and improve safety through the construction of new access ramps, new bridges and interstate widening.
We hope this revamped interchange will become an iconic feature for the Upstate.
A joint venture of Flatiron Constructors and Zachry Construction, which both have completed numerous South Carolina road projects, was awarded the design and construction of this project in August 2014 and major construction is expected to begin in February. SCDOT is excited to be partnering with this joint venture team and looks forward to a very successful project. Construction is scheduled to be finished by the middle of 2019 and during this time, SCDOT will be celebrating its 100th anniversary and the I-85/385 Interchange Improvement Project, better known locally as the Gateway Project, will play a key role in this centennial celebration.
Along with improvements to the interchange, SCDOT will be upgrading portions of Woodruff Road, Garlington Road, Miller Road and will be improving access ramps to ease traffic flow on and off the interstate at several points including Roper Mountain Road, Woodruff Road, and Butler Road. The project also includes an extension of the fourth auxiliary lane on I-85 northbound and southbound between I-385 and Pelham Road and widening of I-385 to six lanes from north of Butler Road to Roper Mountain Road.
When these renovations are complete, the public will enjoy a vast improvement in its driving experience through this vital corridor by way of enhancements to highway safety and interstate commuting. However, until we get to that point, and as with any major construction project, there will be traffic delays and disruptions so I would like to thank the public in advance for their patience and understating while this work is being completed.
These improvements will enhance commerce and serve as a catalyst for economic growth. This $231 million dollar project will also create jobs for the state and strengthen businesses in the community through equipment rentals, the purchase of construction materials and the employment of local sub-contractors, DBE firms and consultant firms.
The Gateway project is funded using money provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), ACT 98, and the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study. Act 98 was signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley on June 24, 2013. The legislation provides an annual appropriation of $50 million to SCDOT for interstate improvements. This appropriation will in turn, transfer an equivalent amount to the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SCTIB) to finance an estimated $550 million in improvements to existing mainline interstates when Federal matching funds are included. Up to $80 million of SCTIB funding has been designated to bring this project to the Upstate.
As the Commissioner of the Fourth Congressional District, I would like to express how excited I am to represent this second largest construction project in the nearly 100-year history of SCDOT. This project means much more to the State of South Carolina than just an interchange improvement project. The 85/385 Gateway will be a signature piece of infrastructure and will have a positive impact on the Upstate community and provide a great benefit for the traveling public.
We invite the Greenville community to join SCDOT in our excitement about this project and all that it brings to the State of South Carolina. We invite everyone to keep in touch with our team to follow the progress of this significant project through our outreach programs.
Woodrow “Woody” W. Willard, Jr. is the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s Commissioner for Greenville and Spartanburg counties. Learn more at www.85385gateway.com or follow the project on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/85385gateway.