Alternative to Woodruff Road moves forward

The two-lane connector would give motorists new ways of getting to popular destinations along Woodruff Road without having to drive on the notoriously congested retail corridor itself.

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woodruff mapCity of Greenville officials say they’re almost ready to start building a new road that’s expected to cut traffic on Woodruff Road by more than 20 percent.

The half-mile, two-lane connector would run parallel to Woodruff Road from Verdae Boulevard to Woodruff Industrial Lane and use roundabouts to connect with two dead ends along the way, Ketron Court and Green Heron Road.

It would give motorists new ways of getting to popular destinations along Woodruff Road without having to drive on the notoriously congested retail corridor itself.

For example, motorists could take the proposed route from Verdae Boulevard and drive behind the Nutra Manufacturing plant to get to Target or Trader Joe’s.

If they wanted to shop at Costco or Cabela’s, they’d have to cross Woodruff Road but wouldn’t have to spend any other time driving on it.

AECOM, a consultant hired by the city, estimated the proposed route would cut traffic on Woodruff Road by more than 20 percent.

“I think it’s going to be a lot safer for our guests,” said Michael Heater, general manager of the Candlewood Suites hotel on Green Heron Road next to the Nutra plant.

Right now, the hotel’s guests have no choice but to drive on Woodruff Road, and several guests have had accidents, Heater said.

The proposed route would allow them to get back and forth between Interstate 85 via Verdae Boulevard without having to drive on Woodruff Road.

If it gets built, “We will change directions on our website,” Heater said.

The idea for the improvement surfaced last year when Piedmont Natural Gas told city officials it was planning to build a private road so trucks from its operations center behind Target would have an alternative way of getting out in an emergency.

When Piedmont asked if there was any interest in expanding the route and making it a public road, city officials jumped at the chance, said Mike Murphy, the city’s director of public works.

Piedmont and Verdae Properties, which owns undeveloped land along the proposed route, together agreed to contribute $1.6 million, and Verdae also chipped in right of way valued at another $500,000.

Greenville city and county each agreed to contribute $400,000.

The project moved forward again Thursday night, Feb. 23, when the Greenville Legislative Delegation Transportation Committee agreed to add $400,000 toward the $3.7 million cost.

City officials hope to collect the final $400,000 from Woodruff Road businesses in the area of the proposed improvement.

Murphy said he doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“We hope to be under construction before the end of the year,” he said.

Greenville Mayor Knox White said the public/private cooperation to build a public road is very unusual.

“We could have just held up our hands and said ‘Ah, we can’t do anything about Woodruff Road’ but the city and the county decided ‘No, we’re going to take some effective, smart steps to relieve the congestion,’ ” White said.

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