February 21
SCDOT Commission Approves Extension of US 17 Widening Project

Extending current contract to save time, money and improve safety


The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Commission on February 21 approved using federally matched funds to extend the US 17 widening project from the Combahee River northerly for 1.7 miles in Colleton County

The SCDOT Commission approved using up to $25 million in federally matched funds to extend the contract with Phillips and Jordan, Inc., to extend the widening to the existing four-lane passing section at Lightsey Plantation Drive.

“By extending the current contract, a time and cost savings of 15 months and at least $2.1 million in avoided escalation costs, along with the additional safety benefits will be realized,” Secretary of Transportation H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. said.

The US 17 widening project designed to improve safety is already under way along a 6-mile stretch from Gardens Corner to the Combahee River. The project became a priority for the SCDOT Commission after a series of fatal crashes.

Due to the uncertainty of available future funding, tying the newly completed multilane section of US 17 and the Combahee River bridge into the previously constructed passing lanes will provide a more seamless and much safer, longer term transition between these two projects, Limehouse said.

SCDOT Commissioner Marvin Stevenson, representing the 6th Congressional District, said extending the contract will minimize disruption in traffic and allow the Department to take advantage of current wetland permitting.

            “This is excellent news for motorists who use US 17 because it means the safety improvements are being extended in the most cost-efficient manner possible,” Stevenson said.

SCDOT engineers estimate that without extending the current contract, a traditional method of design/bid/build approach would result in a 15-month delay. This would result in an estimated $605,700 in motor user costs (related to the delay motorists experience traveling through a construction zone) and $2,139,941 in construction inflation. (National average highway construction inflation over the past three years is 47 percent.)

SCDOT plans to us the same type of comprehensive environmental protection efforts on the extended segment as is being done on the portion of US 17 under construction. These include silt fencing for erosion control, guardrails for tree preservation and rigorous daily environmental inspections.

“We will continue our efforts to ensure the protection of one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast, the ACE Basin,” Limehouse said.