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Skyliner

Worst Roads in the Upstate & Midlands

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I have read in other posts, about how unreliable certain roads can be when traveling to work or another activity. I thought it would be nice to devote a sub-forum to discussion of these particular roads, and what could be done to improve the flow along them. :)

Based on your knowledge of travel throughout the State, most notably the Upstate and Midlands, what stretch of road would you say is the absolute worst road for congestion/taffic jams/wrecks/etc.

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Reidville Rd in Spartanburg was horrible, and still is. But they are widening it to 7 lanes lanes.

Hwy 9 (Boiling Springs Rd) is the worst in Spartanburg County. There are no plans to fix this that I know of.

Columbia really isn't that bad except at rush hour. Two Notch can be frustrating, as can Harbison. US 1 (Augusta Rd/ Main st Lexington) seems like its always backed up.

Good thread idea!

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Thanks for the input! :D Keep 'em coming.

This time of year, there is probably no worse road in the Upstate than I-85 southbound between highway 14 and highway 153. I have to travel this route several times because of work, and if you catch it around 4:30 or 5:00 you may as well plan on being delayed for awhile. To make it much worse, the sun this time of year is setting directly in the driver's view out the windshield, almost as if it was planned that way. There are times you can't even see the vehicle right in front of you. There have been many accidents as a result of heavy traffic in such conditions. :(

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Columbia (lived most of my life)

From my experience Broad River Rd. during rush hour is pretty thick at least it was when I was a kid (14-18). Harbison Bvld. is pretty bad on any given weekend. I-26/I-126 (heading to DT), & I-20, is pretty thick during rush hour in the mornings. I-26/I-126 has some pretty bad bottle neck traffic at malfucnction junction during rush hour in the evenings as well. I've seen bumper to bumper from Greystone Blvd. to Harbison Blvd. there before. Also Bush River Rd. stays pretty congested as well. But I'm from St. Andrews so that has been my experience.

Greenville (2001-2003)

I hated traveling Laurens Rd. during rush hour it was pretty congested especially after you got pass Pleasantburg near the old Greenville mall, In the mornings heading to TR it wasn't as bad though. I just hated having to travel through the city and hitting all of the stoplights, Haywood Rd. & Woodruff Rd. could become pretty congested as well but it wasn't as frustrating for me as Laurens. I-385 had some bottleneck traffic in the morning, and although I rarely ever traveled down it I understand Whitehorse Rd. can be pretty congested as well. I-85 really never seemed that bad though actually it reminded me of I-20, and I-26 in Columbia.

Myrtle Beach (2001)

I know we are only supposed to discuss the Upstate & Midlands area but Myrtle Beach has the worst all-around traffic of all the areas I've lived in SC. It's metro is just over 200,000 but that's just its resident population. If I had to "guesstimate" what it's year round pop. was I would say on any given day in Myrtle the tourist + local population would be anywhere from 300K-500K depending upon what time of the year it was. Anyway that population is located within a very narrow stretch of land. I believe from the beach to the intercoastal waterway is only about a 5-8 mile stretch of land? US 17/ US 17 bypass was pretty much the only major road you could take at the time. It may be a little less congested now the the Carolina by-ways has been built. When I lived there it took me about 45 minutes to travel 25 miles from Cherry Grove (N. Myrtle/ almost spitting distance to the NC border) to Garden City off of 17 bypass.

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Thanks for the Cola travel info. I haven't been there in a couple of months and my experience has been very good, with no backups or delays, though, as you said, it can get congested as you enter the city. :)

As for G-ville, Laurens Road is as easy as it gets these days, except down @ Stone Ave. passing under the I-385 bridge construction and E. North/Park Ave. area. The traffic here is worse than ever, because the 385 bridge is gone until a new one is finished, meaning that everyone entering the city by that route must cross Stone Ave. There are barracades all over the place as well. :unsure:

Hey, I think info on roads across the state are welcome here, so the statements about Myrtle Beach traffic are an important addition to this thread. :thumbsup:

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BTW, I was just thinking about how the Upstate has much different terrain than the Midlands. Many of the roads here were originally built along some old wandering wagon path, whereas the roads in the flatter Midlands area were able to be laid out on a square for most of the region. I say this, because there are many roads in the Upstate with treacherous curves and high-volume traffic, making it more dangerous overall in my opinion. The road system in the Upstate can also become quite confusing to many people, because very few roads travel from one point to another without first meandering all over the countryside. :huh:

edit: That being said, I think the topography in the Upstate is far more interesting than the flat terrain of the Midlands/Coast. Just my personal opinion. :)

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BTW, I was just thinking about how the Upstate has much different terrain than the Midlands.  Many of the roads here were originally built along some old wandering wagon path, whereas the roads in the flatter Midlands area were able to be laid out on a square for most of the region.  I say this, because there are many roads in the Upstate with treacherous curves and high-volume traffic, making it more dangerous overall in my opinion.  The road system in the Upstate can also become quite confusing to many people, because very few roads travel from one point to another without first meandering all over the countryside. :huh:

edit: That being said, I think the topography in the Upstate is far more interesting than the flat terrain of the Midlands/Coast.  Just my personal opinion. :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, Columbia has square blocks because it was designed that way. They didn't care about the terrain at all. Columbia is suprisingly hilly as are the upper sections of the Midlands, but if you get blow the fall line it flattens out. The Midland's roads have the same nature as the Upstate's. For example Two Notch Road gets its name because it follows an old Indian trail that was marked by two notches in a tree every so often.

I agree that the Upstate's roads are more confusing though. They tend to be much more meandering.

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I'll have to check out what you're talking about, because I seriously don't see how the Midlands can be anywhere near as "hilly" as the Upstate (I am referring mostly to the Greenville area). That is not to say that there are no hills in Columbia, because I know there are. But come on, point out the areas where old subdivisions were built on a foothill or mountain in a square layout. The kinds of hills here are not condusive to straight road development over the entire area. It is far more easy to design straight roads when there aren't these hills/mountains to go over. Anyway, that doesn't completely justify the seemingly careless collage we have been given here in the Upstate, just possibly brings a little understanding to the subject, maybe? :)

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That being said, I think the topography in the Upstate is far more interesting than the flat terrain of the Midlands/Coast. Just my personal opinion.

Actually, Skyliner, the city of Columbia is quite hilly. It is not flat until you get into lower Richland County. Downtown Columbia is built on top of a hill and there are many hilly neighborhoods, although we don't have mountains nearby.

As far as traffic in Columbia is concerned, we are blessed with a bounty of freeways here so traffic is not abominable. I 26 and 126 is quite busy during rush hour, especially "malfunction junction" where I-126, I-26, Bush River Road and I-20 converge. Also, Harbison Blvd. can be rather crowded as can Two Notch Road, but downtown Columbia is full of 4 land and 6 lane roads so traffic is never awful except when you hit every traffic light.

Some hilly Columbia pictures:

fpark1.jpg

fin4.jpg

finlaydtview.jpg

main%20street%20from%20Hyatt%20park.jpg

Downtown and most of USC sits on top of a steep hill:

5%20points%202.JPG

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I hate the Traffic on Woodruff Rd. 30,000 plus cars a day with only 4 lanes. Wade Hampton has about the same traffic but 6 lanes I never have traffic problems on that road.

Arlington Rd. (HWY 357) is two lanes and has pretty moderate traffic, but what makes it a problem is that it has 2 or 3 90 degree turns in it. Most notably at the Apalache Mill.

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Worst intersection has got to be where HWY 290 and HWY 101 meet in Greer to make Buncombe Rd. If you are on HWY 101 you will sit forever becuase there is a stop sign on 101 and 290 has nothing so the traffic just keeps on coming.

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Malfunction Junction at rush hour can be congested (I-20 and I-26 JCT). Right now, navigating 5-points is a hassle, due to the construction, not to mention even walking around the Koger Center and USC School of Music is a nightmare, due to all of the roads being dug up to replace the pipes.

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I'll have to check out what you're talking about, because I seriously don't see how the Midlands can be anywhere near as "hilly" as the Upstate (I am referring mostly to the Greenville area).  That is not to say that there are no hills in Columbia, because I know there are.  But come on, point out the areas where old subdivisions were built on a foothill or mountain in a square layout.  The kinds of hills here are not condusive to straight road development over the entire area.  It is far more easy to design straight roads when there aren't these hills/mountains to go over.  Anyway, that doesn't completely justify the seemingly careless collage we have been given here in the Upstate, just possibly brings a little understanding to the subject, maybe? :)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I didn't mean its the mountains, just that its not flat like Florence of Charleston. There are some decent hills around here. Just below USC on Bull st (or Pickens or Sumter, just pick your street) there is a steep hill. Go look at Assembly while you're at it. Most people don't think of Columbia as a hilly place because its not near the mountains.

Like you said though, its not an excuse, but it can help explain things. But its not like a square grid is the answer for road development. They have squares out west, and they still have bad traffic.

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An interesting article in yesterday's Greenville News on topic. Sorry it's so long...

Deaths on State 124 show dangers of secondary roads

Posted Monday, January 17, 2005 - 10:50 pm

By Heidi Coryell Williams

EASLEY BUREAU

[email protected]

A large white cross on State 124 memorializes the spot where Vincent "Buck" Wiegand drew his last breath as he bled to death behind the wheel of his Toyota Corolla. He died May 3, 2004 after a head-on collision.

Deborah Wiegand says she can only hope and pray her husband never knew what hit him.

The crash that claimed Wiegand's life is one of seven fatal collisions State 124 has seen since 2001

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Before i start; when i mean " worst roads " in my mind, i mean the following:

This is gonna be a long post so get yourself some food and a drink:

Travel lanes

Pavement Quality

Painted line quality

Traffic volumes (if the road can handle it)

Planning

---------------------------------

Ill start from the coast/pee dee region then up towards the upstate as more time permits:

Coast/Pee Dee

US 17:

More information: http://www.expresswaysite.com/html/sc_17.html

*Note: Feel free to email me if you see anything that should be corrected/updated/general comments/etc

Doing a website is much harder than most people think!

From Calabash, NC towards the Myrtle Beach Line

Man, i can see it in the winter time not being a bad road (insert your own word for summer!) but the pavement is crap (last time i traveled it was last summer), lots of lights, only a 5 lane highways (cont. center turn lane), the lights are dull and gonna burn out... not enough LED replacements but SCDOT does do them though. Good thing, SC 31 was built to the west.. if only if they could extend it northward to Grisettown, NC at Hickman Road/US 17. The SC 9/US 17 multiplex and its intercahnges work quite well. Through N Myrtle Beach, unless your looking for your hotel or someplace to eat (barefoot landing for instance), hop onto SC 31 if your going past NMB. Traffic is choking there and it needs widening through there.

Myrtle Beach to Georgetown

You got the bypass and Kings Hwy (Business 17); i used to say to my mom years and years ago that the bypass is a time saver but now.. ha.. bypass 17 is built up like you wouldnt believe and it continues to be built up. One great thing about 17 bypass is that its an expressway (see www.expresswaysite.com and check out the US 17 page for what i mean) meaning that driveway access is prohibited which has frontage roads taking care of the driveway access points. Thats a major plus yet the bypass could USE more turn lanes, i can think of numerous occasions of cars being back up in the left lane for turning vehicles (lets not go to summer on this one!). As far as Kings Hwy, it has more lanes, all signals are green on yield (doghouse signals) which is good, wish NC did that more often. Kings Hwy is fine for the most part except around the vicinity of US 501 and the strip (the pavillion) where its in gridlock in the summer. South of Murrels/Pawleys, it lightens up some as US 17 is 60mph and will probably be developed on the southern end of the strand. Georgetown, BUILD A BYPASS! But signage is good directing you where to go if you pay good attention but Gtown is a breeze nonetheless. SC 31 as i mentioned earlier, it will end around Holmestown road in southern Horry County before the Gtown county line (where 17 and 17 bypass meet).

Georgetown to Colleton County

17 moves well but pavement quality is poor. Turn lanes are spotty and they should build a few more. The SC 41 intersection now has a signal for where US 17 NB to SC 41 NB has 2 left turn lanes now.. used to be no signal there. Traffic builds up considerably once you start getting towards SC 517 (IOP Connector) as it becomes more built up. Past I-526, becomes heavily congested but again (like i mentioned about 17 bypass), 17 is also an expressway here with frontage roads and no driveways but LOTS of lights. One good shortcut to avoid 17 is Mathis Ferry Road. I think like 2 lights and a couple roundabouts to the Ion Development and that such. So far, the new suspension bridge looks like its doing good, id give it another 2 years at least till thats done since you gotta keep in mind that its connecting I-26 further out towards N Charleston as part of the project. Through Charleston, 17 is the closest thing to a jersey boulevard with no turns at signals and ALL TURNS FROM RIGHT LANE and such. Signage should be improved through 17 in Charleston noting the NO TURNS at intersections and pavement markings could use some improvement as well Through West Ashley, traffic moves fine (better than Mt Pleasant) but i think eventually, they oughta get rid of the center turn lane and put a concrete low leveled ground median but thats just me. Getting past Hollywood, traffic lightens up a lot as entering colleton county, its a 2 lane road primarly.

Colleton County to Savannah

Not much to report on this. Passing zones here and there with KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS signs but not everyone follows it anyways. This is not a bad drive here, kinda scenic, pavement is pretty good. Multiplexing with I-95 then becomes a frontage road to Ridgeland and Hardeeville, i cant report there because ive never driven on 17 there (why would I?). Once I-95 and 17 for the last time in SC, 17 is 4 lanes briefly and nothing too exciting, just very boring and no potholes or cracks. As it becomes a 2 lane ihghway, pavement is soso, traffic moves well. There are parts of the way on 17 where at one particular intersection, the pavement widens, no broken lines (no white line seperating two lanes) at the intersection so traffic can move right if someone turns left.. i would find that very un-southern type of way of doing an intersection. Again.. getting close to the savannah river.. shoulders get widen at business locations but this time a white line seperating the shoulder. Getting into Savannah, becomes a brief urban freeway.

Comments/Suggestion

Make 17, four lanes through colleton county and towards I-95.

Going towards savannah leaving Hardeeville, if money is availible, four lane US 17 there too but not a high priority right away.

Extend SC 31 to Georgetown, bypass it then resume back on 17 south of gtown

Connect 31 to NC at 17 as well so theres a true N-S MB bypass thats all freeway

Replace all of the signals that are dull, dark and about to burn out. LED's are expensive but you wont ever have to replace them again for YEARS. Thats more power to SCDOT

Add turn lanes at key intersections that sees a lot of turning traffic

Develop a study to figure out what to do with US 17 between SC 41 and I-526 to perhaps re-route traffic away from 17 onto 526 near/around daniel island.

And also, the same thing goes in W. Ashley to at least Hollywood, build a relocated US 17 there.

When doing the study, find ways to improve the current 17 between 526 and the bridge. An example that i vaguely remember of being on years ago that i talked to at the bar was US 41 through St Petersburg, FL where it was once an expressway like 17 but then became a freeway somewhat with frontage roads having on and off ramps. I could be wrong, inquire about this if im not fully correct on this.

-------------------------------------------

Ill do more as more time permits.

Next up on roads that could USE MORE IMPROVEMENT

US 501

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Travel lanes

Pavement Quality

Painted line quality

Traffic volumes (if the road can handle it)

Planning

---------------------------------

US 501

http://www.expresswaysite.com/html/south_carolina.html

As part of the I-73 future corridor, that helps a lot in the long run. US 501 as long as i can remember before the SC 22 Conway bypass.. man.. i can remember backups in the summer starting from just west of Conway to the Pavillion. SC 22 helps a lot to facilitate traffic to NMB more than MB itself.

From the NC border at South of the border to where it begins its four lanes around Marion, it moves well. As far as planning goes, its part of the I-73 corridor so nobody cant complain much (the number shouldn't be 73 and i think 73 should go to charleston but thats another story). This is where i think US 501 needs a few improvements from Marion to Myrtle Beach:

widen the shoulders to at least 3 feet with rumble strips

add turn lanes

resurfacing

US 501 does offer the SC traveler assistance zones between Conway and MB so thats a major plus. Is that the only non-interstate road in the state that offers that? With the service roads built on US 501 around SC 31 is a major plus, traffic moves much better now than it used to with all of the driveway access near by and traffic lights. Other than that, US 501 dosent have much complaints from me.

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In Greenville, the interchange of I-85 and Pelham Road and The Parkway at 5:00 PM. Poorly designed, traffic backs up down I-85 in both directions.

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In Greenville, the interchange of I-85 and Pelham Road and The Parkway at 5:00 PM.  Poorly designed, traffic backs up down I-85 in both directions.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

When Bosch moved to Batesville Rd. they were promised a I-85 interchange on Batesville. For those of you who do not know heading south on 85 Batesville Rd. is the interchange before Pelham Rd.

Due to some kind of federal regulation that says interchanges have to be so far apart that interchange was never built. In my opinion had they put the interchange at batesville all the traffic going south and getting off at Pelham Rd. could be cut and half and could solve some of those problems.

I say screw the regulations and put it in.

On another note a while back The Parkway was put in that connects Batesville Rd to Pelham and they are Just finishing up the Vernse Smith Parkway that will Connect HWY 29 to HWY 14. Ultimatly HWY 14 was supposed to be connected to Batesville Rd. makeing one long Parkway from Pelham to Batesville to HWY 14 to HWY 101 to HWY 29. That will never happne now though becuase they thought that the section between HWY 14 and Batesville would put to much traffic on The Parkway connecting Batesville to Pelham and couse gridlock at the on ramp at Pelham and I-85. Something that could have been prevented with a on ramp at Batesville and I-85. Alas, the section of the Parkway from Batesville to HWY 14 can never be constructed now even if they were to change theirs minds becuase a developer put a neighborhood right where the road would have gone.

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I agree, Brad Toy. :) This area, around Michelin and Thornblade, is definitely one of the hottest and heaviest areas for traffic in metro Greenville. Just imagine what it would have been like had the Cliffs Heritage development been approved. That was going to bring the largest, most exclusive residences the Upstate has seen to date, and a golf course the equal to any well-known PGA course. Oh well, we'll just have to remember that dream with sadness. :cry:

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Here's an interesting article from today's Greenville News on a growing concern to many drivers. I apologize for the length, but it is very beneficial to his thread... :)

Upstate drivers cross 500 deficient bridges

Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 - 1:31 am

By Tim Smith and Ashley Fletcher

STAFF WRITERS

10651.jpg

This Hammett Bridge Road bridge is currently under a weight limit restriction. Because of money problems, hundreds of bridges in the Upstate probably won't get repairs this year. (Patrick Collard/Staff) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jan Huffman of Greer drives across a small bridge over the Enoree River on Old Spartanburg Road every day when she takes her daughter to Riverside High.

The bridge is rated structurally deficient. Huffman said she didn't know that.

She is one of thousands of motorists who cross bridges every day that state inspectors have labeled deficient.

More than 500 deficient bridges span creeks and rivers in Greenville County and other areas of the Upstate. Yet only a fraction will be replaced or repaired this year because of a lack of funding.

"This needs to be addressed," said Hanif Chaudry, who chairs the department of civil and mechanical engineering at the University of South Carolina. "You don't want something to fail and then ask, 'What should we do now?'"

It is an issue that shouldn't be ignored by state lawmakers, Chaudry said.

Some deficient bridges bear cracks underneath. Others sit on timber pilings that have aged beyond their years. Some serve far more traffic than they were designed to carry when they were built decades ago.

While the bridges aren't in immediate danger of collapsing, they need repairs ranging from fixing cracks to replacing the entire structure, state engineers said.

Huffman said safe roads are a priority for her and she's willing to pay to fix them.

"I know it's not politically correct to suggest higher taxes, but it wouldn't offend me to have a higher gasoline tax," she said. "I hope it wouldn't be an extreme increase."

Almost 7 million square feet of bridge driving surface is considered deficient in the state, up from 4 million in 1999. State officials have projected that unless lawmakers rescue more bridges, that level of deficient ones will continue rising each year.

Lee Floyd, the state's chief bridge inspection engineer, said the problem of fixing the bridges comes down to money.

"South Carolina is a growing state," he said. "We haven't historically had the money to keep pace with our needs. And now the needs are far outpacing our current funding ability."

So much so, in fact, that the number of bridges classified as deficient has grown by almost 200 during the past two years even as the state spent more than $140 million during that time on bridge repairs, most of it in federal funds.

The bridge problem parallels deteriorating roads in the state. Secondary roads haven't been paved in four years due to a lack of funding and the state now leads the nation in the death rate on secondary roads.

While the state's bridges haven't claimed lives, officials said their condition is worsening with little relief in sight.

Floyd said 2,209 bridges statewide are classified as deficient, meaning they either have structural problems or the traffic flow is more than the bridge was designed to handle.

That amounts to one out of every four bridges.

Fixing or replacing every deficient bridge over the next 20 years would cost $1.75 billion, according to a 2001 study.

"Our bridges need immediate attention," said Sen. John Land of Manning, leader of Senate Democrats. "They're getting to the point where they're actually dangerous."

The problem is acute in the Upstate, which has more bridges than any other section of South Carolina because of numerous creeks, streams and roads.

Debbie Painter of Greer also said she didn't know the bridge on Old Spartanburg Road had structural deficiencies, but she has seen its flooding problems.

"When the water gets up down there, I don't feel safe going over it at all," she said. "That's probably where the damage is from

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All roads in S.C. could stand some improvement. Iwork for a consultant engineering firm that inspects highways for the DOT. The main problem in my opinion is that the state waited to long to begin maintainence on our roads.Currently SCDOT is working on the 27 in 7 project. This project is supposed to build/widen 27 major roadways in 7 years. 5 billion dollars was allocated by federal government to complete these projects because S.C.'s highways were so outdated or in such poor condition. However no money was allocated to correct secondary roads which are in the worst shape.

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