The Town of Summerville is halfway finished buying the property needed to widen Maple Street and build a new road from West Richardson Avenue to Parsons Road. The road project ties into the Nexton Interchange and Exit 197 on Interstate 26. The project was designed to alleviate traffic on North Main Street.
Russ Cornette, town engineer and director of public works, said 90 properties along the route were affected by the project and eight homeowners relocated as a result of the changes to their property.
Cornette said right-of-way acquisitions should be finished by the end of the year. Once construction of the widening project begins in 2020, it will take 18-24 months to complete, he said.
Maple Street will be widened into four lanes between the Nexton Interchange and Highway 78. From there, it will turn into three lanes until West Richardson Avenue. Then the road will cut through the Woodland’s property to connect with Parsons Road.
Intersection improvements are planned where Highway 78 and Maple meet, as well as at West Richardson Avenue and Maple Street.
One crucial part of the project is already complete; connecting Summerville to the Nexton Interchange.
When Berkeley County built the interchange, it had no intention of building a connection from the interchange to Summerville, according to Cornette.
“Not tying it into Summerville didn’t make sense,” Cornette said.
That section wasn’t going to happen unless the Town of Summerville intervened, Cornette said. Cornette and then mayor Bill Collins approached Berkeley County about adding a roadway from Maple Street to the interchange.
“It would have cost us a lot more money and taken us a lot more time to make this connection if we didn’t collaborate with Berkeley County to build it.”
An agreement with Berkeley County had the county paying for the portion of the road until it reached the county line, then the Town of Summerville would foot the bill, which ended up costing $4 million. The project was included in the county’s 2014 referendum for road projects. When the referendum passed, the road was funded.
“We didn’t know until 2014 that it was actually going to happen,” Cornette said.
Cornette disagrees with some people who have suggested the project was not planned well.
“We did the best we could with what we knew at the time,” Cornette said.
The interchange and that section of Maple opened in May of 2018. Since then, Cornette said he has noticed that Main Street is not as congested as it was before the interchange opened. He said once Maple Street is widened and extended, there will be less of a bottleneck at Highway 78.
“Traffic will move a lot more freely,” he said.