One of Berkeley County’s biggest choke points will get some relief in the coming days as a new intersection from Interstate 26 is opened.
The Nexton Parkway interchange will open to vehicles Monday after a ribbon-cutting Thursday morning. Officials have said it will be a new gateway to Summerville and Berkeley County.
Before it opens to vehicles, the overpass will be open Thursday afternoon for walkers who want to stroll across it.
Participants will not be allowed on exit ramps or the interstate. Registration is required to participate.
“This new overpass will give residents in Cane Bay and Nexton a different route home,” said Berkeley County Councilman Tommy Newell.
Every morning and afternoon, traffic backs up on U.S. Highway 17A and U.S. Highway 176 as commuters who live in the rapidly growing area try to make their way to and from work.
Now, they’ll be able to take Exit 197, and Nexton Parkway will connect to Highway 176, also known as State Road.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Cane Bay resident Zack Weathers. “It’ll definitely help, but maybe not for long with the way this area is growing.”
While the project’s completion is long-awaited, the new roadway was actually finished before the summer deadline officials were shooting for when ground was broken just over two years ago.
The entire project is also coming in at $88 million, according to Berkeley County officials. The county provided nearly $55 million of the funding, with an additional $22 million coming from the state Transportation Infrastructure Bank, $8 million from the State Ports Authority, and $4 million from the town of Summerville.
The funds were spent on engineering, design, permitting, right-of-way acquisition and construction. Banks Construction came in about 4 percent under its construction bid of about $69.5 million, according to county officials.
“This incredible and much-needed interchange is one worth celebrating,” Berkeley Supervisor Bill Peagler said in a press release. “Despite several weather events, including multiple hurricanes and a winter storm, this project stayed on track and will be open ahead of schedule."
The entire project includes the new interchange just west of Sheep Island Road and widening of I-26 from four lanes to six from the Summerville exit at mile marker 199 to about half a mile past the new interchange.
Part of the project opened April 5, including frontage roads Holiday Drive and Business Park Road, and the Maple Street extension toward Highway 78.
The county is already looking at widening Nexton Parkway to four lanes to accommodate thousands more homes that are expected to be built in Nexton, Carnes Crossroads and Cane Bay in the coming years.
Berkeley is obligated to widen the parkway when a traffic study says it’s needed, according to its development agreement with Nexton.