COLUMBIA, SC — State lawmakers recently approved $600 million to accelerate the widening of I-26 and a 33-mile stretch of I-95 from four lanes to six lanes.
The I-26 project is expected to be completed in 2034, six years ahead of schedule. Part I-95 will be completed by 2030, two years ahead of schedule.
“It just seemed like, you know, having done it 15 years from now, just wasn’t going to achieve the goals of what people want now,” said Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg).
Traffic jams, delays and accidents are common experiences for those driving from Columbia to Charleston on I-26.
“It doesn’t make sense to only have two lanes for a busy freeway,” said Alyson Davenport.
“It seems like more people are traveling these days. There’s a greater need for more lanes,” Michelle Trenaman said.
The funding is made up of $450 million from Covid-19 money and $130 million from the state budget. The widening will begin at exit 195 on Jedburg Road and extend to exit 125 in Lexington County.
“I would drive a lot more on this freeway if they extended it,” Davenport said.
“I think it’s way too late,” Trenaman said.
According to the state Department of Transportation, traffic across the state has increased 30% over the past decade, with more than 22 million cars traveling on I-26 between Columbia and Charleston each year.
“Opening on 26 All way to Charleston is really important not only for the traveling public, but also for economic development,” Hutto said. “Orangeburg will be the last part to be closed as they will start with the three lanes in Calhoun and move east and they will start with the three lanes out of Dorchester and move west.”