BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A groundbreaking Monday for Berkeley County's Nexton Parkway Interchange, also known as the Sheep Island Interchange, will start the construction of the $83 million project.
Berkeley County lawmakers began pushing for the interchange more than 10 years ago. Changes have already been noticed by residents near the sites and I-26 commuters. Road closure signs are up and trees have been knocked down where crews will construct the Sheep Island interchange.
"If you've been involved in any traffic situations, you can appreciate another way to get on to the interstate so that you can divert thousands of cars through here that won't be on 17-A," says Berkeley County Supervisor, William Peagler.
People who travel on Highway 17-A also known as Main Street will now have an alternate route.The project entails widening the interstate from four to six lanes from milemarker 199 to 197. According to construction plans, they'll also remove the Sheep Island Bridge among other changes.
"You'll also be able to get on the interstate from 78 in Summerville so they can avoid the congestion on Main Street," says Peagler.
The interchange is expected to ease the huge growth in the Nexton community. It is also supposed to help travel when Volvo rolls into the area. County leaders says they're looking forward to other businesses coming in.
Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and S.C. State Senator, Larry Grooms estimates about 20,000 jobs will be centered around the new interchange.
"This project is a lead in, it's a gateway to the warehousing and manufacturing facilities," says Grooms.
The interchange is not expected to open until the summer of 2018.
The project is funded by the state infrastructure bank, a Berkeley County transportation penny sales tax, the S.C. Ports Authority and the town of Summerville.