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  • John Clayton, Laurens County Advertiser

Exit 22 edits designed to help traffic, growth

By John Clayton Website Link

Editor

The long-anticipated growth of northern Laurens County is happening with condominium complexes and housing subdivisions being built in an area already alive with industry.

But what were once quiet country roads in that area are no longer viable for the amount of industrial and residential growth already occurring, according to a corridor study conducted at the behest of the Laurens County Development Corporation last year.

A $912,000 project to relocate and improve the intersections of Old Laurens Road and Woods Road off of Exit 22 is among 16 projects voters will consider funding with a 1% Capital Project Sales Tax. If approved by voters by referendum during the Nov. 3 General Election, the CPST would fund nearly $35 million in capital projects over the next eight years.

“The growth is coming down this way,” said Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime. “Anybody who has traveled that area on I-385 knows those exits are quite a mess.”

And Caime said they aren’t going to get any better. Exit 22 is already stressed with traffic. Its layout causes confusion among drivers who don’t know the area well as a combination of industry and residential development has started to explode in the area.

The largest proposed residential project in Laurens County – a single-home residential subdivision – was to be put in front of the Laurens County Planning Commission Tuesday night.

Even before that project and a notable condominium development, growth in the area was obvious and Exit 22, the first southbound in Laurens County on I-385, was stressed by industrial traffic and railroad tracks from the Gennessee and Wyoming.

According to the traffic study, which was presented to the Laurens County Council last September, “2.3 million feet of industrial space has been developed in the area over the last five years, accounting for 3,300 new jobs. … There are several thousand acres of land available for development in the Fountain Inn and Gray Court areas; however, economic development will likely be limited by the insufficient roadway access that exists today.”

The $912,000 price tag presented to the appointed CPST Commission for the project in April came directly from the traffic study and recommendations for improvements, which were put together by Thomas & Hutton, a Greenville-based engineering firm.

Caime said he has seen similar problems occurring in along I-385 and I-85 in Greenville and Anderson counties, name on Woodruff Road in Greenville and along the Easley and Powdersville exits on I-85.

“I’m proud that the City of Fountain Inn submitted this project,” Caime said. “If we don’t have a plan to fix this, it’s going to stifle growth. What we’re doing is planning ahead.”

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