Traffic circle opposition picks up speed

 

BLYTHEWOOD –  As controversy heated up over a proposed traffic circle that would impact the Blythewood Road entrances to Cobblestone Park, Palmetto Citizens Bank, the Food Lion shopping complex and two properties owned by Blythewood businessman Larry Sharpe, Richland County Penny Tax officials took a step back this week to again receive citizen input on the issue. But, at the end of the day, David Bailey, one of several members of the county-hired program development team who met with citizens Thursday evening, was less than yielding.

“We can look at it again, but that’s not going to change what works best at this intersection,” Bailey said.

Larry Sharpe, left, and David Bailey of the traffic development team discuss the traffic circle. | Barbara Ball

The County had planned to formally present its case for a final draft of the traffic circle during a public hearing at Muller Road Middle School on Thursday, but decided to forego the formal presentation at the last minute and, instead, hosted what Bailey explained as an informal question and answer session with residents after it became obvious in recent weeks that many of the residents do not want the traffic circle.

Cobblestone Park resident Bethany Parler repeated at that meeting a worry she expressed earlier this month at the Town Council’s annual retreat – that the circle will not solve the traffic problem in that area and might even contribute to a bigger problem.

“If you look at the plans,” Parler said, pointing to one of several renderings and diagrams set up in the school gym, “you will have to turn left out of Cobblestone, then shoot across two lanes of moving traffic, then merge to the right to get on to the interstate while cars are merging onto the circle from Community Road.”

David Bailey, a representative of the program development team hired by the County, did not disagree with that scenario.

While Parler, Sharpe and others reminded Bailey that the circle was not part of the referendum (Master Plan) for the town, Bailey agreed with that also.

“But the referendum identified that Blythewood Road should be widened from I-77 to Syrup Mill Road and it does not get down into the specifics of how each intersection should be improved within that corridor,” Bailey said. “So as part of our engineering study, we’ve looked at each intersection to see if a signal needs to be added and what other improvements could be made to improve traffic and safety. We determined that a traffic circle would be the better improvement at the intersection of Cobblestone and Community Drive,” Bailey said.

Sharpe suggested holding off on the project and evaluating it a little more in light of the growth that would be coming to that area imminently.

“You have all this industrial area [between I-77 and Ashley Oaks] and much of it almost under contract, you have Cobblestone, D. R. Horton is building another 300 homes in back and another developer is coming in with 200 homes [on Blythewood Road near Cobblestone Park],” Sharpe said. “I don’t see, with all this traffic, how a traffic circle will help. In the mornings, there is no break in the traffic for cars to get onto the circle. It’s all bumper to bumper.”

“If traffic is going to back up from I-77 to Syrup Mill Road, it’s going to back up whether we have a circle, a traffic light or no traffic light. We can’t help worst case conditions,” Bailey said. “But this traffic circle will help by slowing traffic down and making people yield. It will give breaks in the traffic,” Bailey explained.

Town Council discussed on Monday evening the possibility of holding a special workshop on the issue sometime in April, and Mayor J. Michael Ross said public input would be invited.

“I think we are going to have to come up with some alternatives, some other ways to deal with traffic in this area,” Ross told The Voice following Thursday evening’s meeting at Muller Road Middle School. “Maybe we can come up with something.”

Comments

  1. Robert Watkins says

    Just widen Blythewood Rd from the Bridge at I-77 down to Syrupmill Rd then make the Bridge like the one on 378 at I-26 near Lexington Hospital. The Town of Blythewood is growing and with that comes more traffic. so that means make the roads to compensate for that traffic. Putting a two lane round-about at Cobblestone won’t help traffic because of having to go accross two lanes of traffic to make a left turn out of Cobblestone. People will be wrecking more than anyone wants. ( Some people will not let other people in ) It’s hard enough having to get accross one lane coming out of University Village Dr. and someone mentioned closing Commuity Church Rd well that won’t be good for the businesses on that road. BUT it doesn’t matter what you do some people will like it and some will hate it. There will come a time in the coming years that the road in the town of Blythewood will need to be widened as well to accommodate the local and tourist traffic. Good luck with that. ( My 2 cents )

  2. Christopher Phillips says

    Speaking from a perspective of navigating traffic circles regularly in the US and abroad, this design proposed inclines itsefl to heavier traffic and accidents. The premise of a trafic circle is to quickly and expediently enter on the outside lane and navigate to the inside lane of trafic when safe. The propposed Cobblestone entrance lends itself to increased trafic accidents by requiring drivers to immediately cross 2 lanes of trafic to access I-77, or turn right and exit the trafic circle immediately.

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