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$1.7 Billion, Five-Part, 8-Year SC Road Project Set to Begin

Carolina Crossroads Phase Timeline Map SCDOT.jpg
SCDOT's phase timeline for the Carolina Crossroads construction project to reconfigure 14 miles of the I-20/26/126 corridor, including the area known as "Malfunction Junction" near Columbia, SC.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina road crews are getting ready for the first of a five-part, $1.7 billion project to untangle where Interstates 20, 26 and 126 meet west of downtown Columbia.

The project is being called Carolina Crossroads and is scheduled to last through 2029, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

The area is not only one of Columbia's busiest areas, but also its most congested. The SCDOT estimates drivers spend 112 hours each year stuck in traffic along the highways.

Construction on the first phase of the project is set to begin next spring and will redesign parts of I-26 and I-126, including the Colonial Life Boulevard exit. It costs $210 million, the DOT said.

The second phase starting soon after will work on I-20's eastern approach to I-26.

The third, and most complex phase will be working on the I-20, I-26 and I-126 interchanges, which are scheduled to start in 2023 and last four to five years.

The remaining two phases involving widening and improving I-26 heading west from I-20.

The highways will remain open throughout the project and as much work as possible will be done at night or outside peak commuting times, officials said.

The highways are some of the busiest in the state. I-26 sees about 150,000 vehicles on an average day, with I-20 carrying about 100,000 and about 68,000 vehicles using I-126, according to SCDOT figures.