Light at the end of Dorchester County road bottleneck?
SUMMERVILLE — The rush-hour nightmare at a once-rural intersection might have an end in sight.
County leaders and engineers are promising that signal lights will go up within nine months at Cooks Crossroads, where Bacons Bridge Road crosses S.C. Highway 61.
The lights will be installed along with turn lanes as the first step in a bigger project to widen Bacons Bridge Road to the intersection. The light installation is a break from a standard S.C. Department of Transportation policy not to install lights until an entire road project is completed, and traffic flow can be evaluated.
“In this case, it was clear to us the signal would be needed,” said Matt Lifsey, DOT regional production engineer.
Cooks Crossroads used to be a sleepy country intersection where two-lane roads met at a blinking light without much traffic.
It joined a long list of traffic miasmas in the Lowcountry in 2008 when Ashley Ridge High School opened down S.C. Highway 165, the country route that Bacons Bridge Road becomes.
Today, traffic converges on the intersection to and from the high school, Beech Hill Elementary School and any number of large commuter subdivisions nearby.
The bottleneck backs up so far that the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office this year temporarily placed a deputy there to direct traffic in place of a light, with mixed results.
The contractor, Banks Construction, will be under a money penalty to finish the intersection work by July 2013, said Donnie Dukes of Davis & Floyd Inc., the project engineers.
The overall Bacons Bridge Road widening from near Trolley Road has a September 2015 deadline. An accompanying project would widen the road to Ashley Ridge High.
The $24 million Bacons Bridge project is expected to be paid for with a mix of Dorchester County penny sales tax money, and federal and state grants.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.