Dorchester County is shifting some road project funding to pay for improvements in areas experiencing economic growth.
County officials say they requested to reallocate over $3 million in state grants that was originally intended for road work in the Ridgeville area and now use it on roads around the Winding Woods Industrial Park, near Saint George.
The funding would be used to improve U.S. Highway 15, Highway 78 and Spring Road to accommodate truck traffic that is anticipated at a DHL Supply Chain distribution center that is set to be built in the coming years.
DHL announced in April that it is investing $100 million to build the distribution center. It is expected to generate 450 new jobs.
Dorchester County Administrator Jason Ward said the funding would pay for acceleration and deceleration lanes near Highway 78 and Winding Woods, Highway 15 and near Academy Road. The money would also pay for the paving of a 3,000-foot dirt road section of Spring Road.
The improvements would allow the trucks to bypass Saint George and handle the additional traffic that comes with increased industry.
“With progress comes traffic,” said Ward. “We want to be able to make the improvements around winding woods and around Ridgeville as well so that our residents and those that are traveling along 78 will still be able to share the roads.”
The state grant was originally intended for a three-lane widening project on Highway 27 but Ward said the Volvo Interchange should relieve some of the traffic on 27 when it is complete.
A different road project that has already been funded will include improvements on Highway 78 from Dorchester to Summerville, including in the Ridgeville area.
Ward said the county does anticipate having to widen Highway 27 in the future to 5 lanes, which would cost more than the original three-lane project, and will be working with the state on that project. He said those improvements will be completed in conjunction with an I-26 widening project near the existing Ridgeville exit.