DOT briefs media on next phase of I-20 widening project, changes start this weekend
Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – The SCDOT held a briefing for the media Wednesday to let them know how the next phase of their I-20 widening project will affect drivers who use that interstate's eastbound lanes in the Lexington area of the county. They did so hoping the media would spread the word about a major change in I-20’s flow of traffic over the coming weekend.
The east lanes are the only ones that will be included in this traffic pattern change. Those are the lanes headed to Columbia and Florence that experiences so much congestion during the weekday morning commute. Ironically, the briefing was held just hours after emergency crews had to close the interstate going toward Augusta in the same area after black ice coated its surface and caused six accidents in a very short period.
The SCDOT said that starting soon, motorist will see a major lane change. This is the next phase of the construction sequence. Motorist travelling east will notice the lane shift beginning the weekend of November 16-17. The work was originally expected to start on Thursday, but the start date was changed due to weather conditions. The work is expected to last just three days if all goes according to plan. The shift will begin at South Lake Drive (SC-6) and continue to Sunset Boulevard (U.S. 378). The traffic patterns of the westbound lanes won’t change at all during the work.
Motorists travelling east will split into two separate lanes of traffic. Each will have concrete “Jersey” barriers lining the lanes for safety. The lane on the right will be the one used to access all the existing exits. SCDOT officials say that the left lane will be more of an “express lane”. It will allow you to bypass the South Lake Drive and Augusta Roads exits while continuing to move along with the flow of traffic. Motorist who are in the “express lane” can exit at Sunset Boulevard if they so desire. The DOT did not say what would happen if you got in the "express lane" inadvertently and needed to exit at Augusta Road. It would seem that you will have to go to Sunset Boulevard, exit, reenter the interstate going west, and then return to your exit from those lanes. There should be plenty of signage before the shift to educate drivers which lane they should use.
This should not hinder emergency responders in the event of an accident or some other emergency. As a general rule, Lexington County sends first responders from the two closest stations in both directions. This is done in case the vehicles involved either crossed over into the oncoming lane or the callers was confused or unable to identify what direction they were travelling.