In the shadow of a pedestrian bridge that bears his wife’s name, Congressman James Clyburn helped break ground on Tuesday for a new project designed to give pedestrians and bicyclists a safe, beautiful corridor.

“It’s important for me to be here because this project happens to run adjacent to another highway department project named in honor of my late wife,” Clyburn said.

“To improve this entire area is something that needs to be done. It will change the attitude of the students who come here every day. I know how uplifting it is to me personally to have the ambiance of a place looking right,” he said.

The project includes improvements for the U.S. Highway 21/178 Bypass (Chestnut Street) corridor near the entrance of South Carolina State University.

The corridor enhancements proposed include intersection improvements along US 21/178 Bypass (Chestnut St) at US 601 (Magnolia St), S-106 (Goff Ave) and SC State University entrance. Intersection improvements include replacing the existing signals with mast arm signals, pedestrian crossing hardware, decorative crosswalks, improved sidewalks and ramps. The sidewalks along both sides of Chestnut St. will be shifted 5’ off the back of the curb to create a planted verge. New pedestrian lighting is proposed along the multi-use path. The existing turn lane will be converted to a planted median with a 4’ fence, where feasible, for traffic calming measures and encouraging pedestrians to cross at signalized intersections.
An accessible ramp is proposed for Harmon Park for better access to the park from street level. Crossing Goff Ave, a multi-use path will meander along the south side of the stream along Chestnut St. Due to the limited space between Chestnut St. and the stream’s bank, the multi-use path is south of the stream. Once the path crosses the pedestrian bridge, the path will run parallel with Chestnut St. and terminate at Russell St.
A plaza and an additional staircase will connect to the pedestrian overpass on the south side of Chestnut St. The architecture of the new staircase will match the existing overpass. A low wall will be placed along the sidewalk from the new staircase to provide additional safety for pedestrians.

Once completed, the project will include rehabilitated sidewalks; stamped crosswalks; landscaped and fenced medians; a shared-use path from Goff Avenue to Bellville Road; retrofitted stairs to the S.C. State pedestrian overpass and black, powder-coated mast arms and pedestrian equipment at the intersections of U.S. Highway 601, Goff Avenue and Wilkinson Boulevard.

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The project was developed through coordination with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the Lower Savannah Council of Governments and Orangeburg County to upgrade pedestrian safety along the corridor and improve pedestrian connectivity.

“This project would not move forward without the many partners who worked tirelessly to identify and commit the necessary funding, $12 million in total, to bring this project to fruition,” SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Engineering Leland Colvin said.

Clyburn was instrumental in getting federal funding earmarked for the project.

“We would not be here without the funding secured at the federal level that accounts for over 80 percent of the total project funding for the improvements on Chestnut Street that we are getting ready to start with,” Colvin said. “I would also like to thank Orangeburg County and the Lower Savannah Council of Governments for their contributions to complete the funding package.”

Orangeburg County Council presented a check for $1.3 million after breaking ground.

“This is a project that is very well needed, and the money has just been sitting there for over 20 years,” Clyburn said. “It can be used for this purpose, and it fit very neatly into the Transportation Department’s goals for the entire region.

“It started with the pedestrian overpass. I expect by this time next year, the stuff at the Railroad Corner will be up and going. That’s what happens, it takes some time to do the planning, but once it breaks, things seem to fall into place.”

The 93-foot pedestrian bridge over Chestnut Street was renamed the Dr. Emily England Clyburn Pedestrian Bridge in 2018.

S.C. State alum Alex Bennett will serve as project engineer.

He said the project will promote safety for pedestrian and bike traffic, and provide a separation between them and the roadway traffic.

“It’s a humbling experience, coming back 10 years after graduation and not having any idea I would be serving in this role,” Bennett said. “It feels good to come back full circle and provide a benefit to the campus, as well as the city and county of Orangeburg.”

Construction should begin sometime this summer and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2023, Bennett said. He expects it take about 18 months.

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