HANAHAN, S.C. (WCBD) – Berkeley County officials are preparing to break ground on what they are calling a critical road project that could offer reprieve from traffic congestion.

Crews with the South Carolina Department of Transportation will begin work on an extension project for Railroad Avenue in Hanahan.

It’s the stretch of road that parallels the railroad tracks behind Trident Technical College, which eventually blends into Mabeline Road.

The project would extend that roadway down to Eagle Landing Boulevard, which runs through the Eagle Landing neighborhood across Northwoods Mall.

Officials say the extension will give you several options, including travel from Northwoods Mall to Hanahan without having to drive down Rivers Avenue.

Pete Poore, the director of communications for South Carolina Department of Transportation, said it’s a Berkeley County project and SCDOT will manage the construction.

The $20.1 million project is being paid for by $16 million of Berkeley County’s one percent sales tax and $4 million from federal money.

“It will also, in some ways, help reduce congestion some or a little on Rivers Avenue,” said Poore.

Right now, school buses take Rivers Avenue from the Otranto or Eagle Landing neighborhoods to schools in Hanahan. Once the roadway extension is complete, they will no longer have to take that route.

“There will be some turning lanes for those pinch point areas around the school’s direct creation center. That, in itself, will help move traffic along in the Hanahan area,” Poore said.

It’s also designed to allow first responders to better respond to the Otranto and Eagle Landing neighborhoods. Right now, they are both cut off by train tracks.

Work is expected to begin soon and will take approximately 18 months to complete. The official groundbreaking for the project will take place Thursday at 3:00 p.m.