West Columbia, community unite to protect homes from Carolina Crossroads project

I-26 near once-proposed Saluda River crossover point.

The collective West Columbia community breathed a sigh of relief when word came down recently that the Carolina Crossroads project would not go through parts of the city’s residential areas.

We were firmly opposed to that plan,” said West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton. “It did not make sense and we wanted to do all that we could to protect the homes of the people living in West Columbia and near to us.”

In November, West Columbia City Council passed a resolution opposing the I-20/126 East-West Connector Directional Interchange Alternative. The interchange is commonly known as the Carolina Crossroads project.

In a release, council stated it was against the proposed interchange plan. City officials said it would negatively affect the residents, businesses and the riverbanks in West Columbia.

West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton

The South Carolina Department of Transportation plan, the city resolution stated, would severely impact five neighborhoods in the City of West Columbia, including: Quail Hollow, Gates of Quail Hollow, Quail Hollow Village, Westover Acres, and River’s Edge.

It’s great that the plan is not going through our community,” said West Columbia City Councilman Jimmy Brooks. He said it would not have been good for the city or education funding.

The Lexington Two School District needs those properties in the district,” said Brooks. He represents many of the residents that would have been displaced by the plan. Brooks said the tax revenue from the residents supports Lexington Two schools.

Brooks also said the members of the communities that would have been affected by the plan did a good job letting their voices be heard at SCDOT meetings held as the plan for an interchange alternative was bring discussed.

West Columbia Councilman Jimmy Brooks

And when the announcement was made that SCDOT dropped the West Columbia properties from the list, there was unified joy.

We were all glad to hear it,” said Horton. And he’s right.

The Quail Hollow Community Association Board issued a statement.

Saying it is “pleased to inform you that the proposed East-West Connector alternative route through Quail Hollow has been eliminated. “Thanks to all of you and your acquaintances who spoke out against this alternative,” Ed Billings of the QHCA, wrote in an email.

But before SCDOT dropped the plan, West Columbia City Council urged “SCDOT to find a solution that does not destroy homes or relocate families on the West Columbia side” of the riverbanks.

Council also thought it would be appropriate for SCDOT to consult with the City of West Columbia in planning. Council stressed that SCDOT included plan options without input from the city.

But City of West Columbia personnel attended public meetings held by SCDOT to make SCDOT aware of the detrimental impact to well-established residential areas the plan would bring.

Quail Hollow homes on the east side

The city also encouraged residents and businesses to reach out to SCDOT to voice their concerns about the plans.

Joel Merrill, QHCA president said he was appreciative of the effort from West Columbia City Council to thwart the project. He also thanked Sen. Nikki Setzler and S.C. House Rep. Micah Caskey for their involvement.

Merrill said he understands the need to upgrade the roads infrastructure and he supports a plan. But the plan through West Columbia would have destroyed more than 200 homes and negatively affected 300 more. He said that plan was not a sensible approach to building a new thoroughfare.

The result of all of the teamwork was accomplishing the goal.

Westover Acres entrance

Setzler, who is West Columbia’s attorney and a West Columbia representative in the State House, was also pleased.

I’m ecstatic,” Setzler said. He said dropping the plan was good news for West Columbia, Lexington County, the Lexington Two School District and Cayce-West Columbia.

Setzler got a letter in late August informing him that the West Columbia neighborhoods were no longer being considered in the Carolina Crossroads plan.

The letter, signed by Leland Colvin, SCDOT’s secretary for engineering, said SCOT had received “many comments from residents” regarding the negative impact from a of a new interchange and freeway connector through Quail Hollow and River’s Edge. “These alternatives have been eliminated,” Colvin wrote.

As it looks for another plan, SCDOT invites the public to attend the upcoming Reasonable Alternatives Public Information Meeting to provide feedback on improvements for “Malfunction Junction” through the Carolina Crossroads I-20/26/126 Corridor Project.

The meeting will be held: from Noon until 7 p.m. on Sept. 19, at the Columbia Conference Center, 169 Laurelhurst Avenue Columbia.

Link to information on Carolina Crossroads alternative Sept. 19, meeting

One Comment

  1. Thanks for getting this good news out to our neighbors, Bobby Horton, mayor

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