The Carolina Crossroads project has received a federal permit that will allow all phases of the ambitious reconstruction of a crowded Columbia corridor to move forward.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday granted the S.C. Department of Transportation the permit that will enable all construction phases to proceed. The estimated $1.6 billion project is reconfiguring the intersection of interstates 20, 26 and 126 in Columbia, a gridlock-prone area known as Malfunction Junction.
The 15-year permit is the last major federal approval for the five-phase construction, according to a news release from SCDOT. Phases 1 and 2 are scheduled to begin next year, with the project slated for completion in 2029.
“We appreciate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ thorough and expert work on this project and its commitment to working with all stakeholders involved to significantly improve the mobility and safety of our state’s citizens,” S.C. Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said in the release. “Our ability to obtain the permit in just nine months is a testament to the Corps’ dedicated staff members and the strong working relationship we have with them.”
The project will reconstruct seven interchanges, including the current cloverleaf loops, and add additional lanes in each direction on I-26.
Carolina Crossroads is one of three primary traffic congestion areas being addressed by SCDOT’s 10-year plan to improve the quality of the state’s roads after 30 years of deferred maintenance because of lack of funding. The other two interchanges are the newly reconstructed I-85/I-385 interchange in Greenville, which was open to traffic in December 2019, and the I-26/I-526 interchange in Charleston, now in the planning phase.
“Carolina Crossroads is the second of the major interstate interchange projects being made possible by the General Assembly’s decision to commit more needed resources to rebuilding the state’s roads and bridges,” Hall said. “We’re putting those resources to good and quick use to ensure easy movement of goods for our businesses and the safety and mobility of our citizens.”