AIKEN, S.C. (WFXG) - A major project for the city of Aiken is going to be underway in soon, and it will address traffic congestion on Whiskey Rd. and other problem areas.

"It's a great day in Aiken," Mayor Rick Osbon told FOX54 following a press conference held Thursday afternoon. The population of Aiken has been growing, and traffic is particularly heavy, Osbon says, on the southside, thanks in part to SRS traffic. 

According to resident Amanda Eubanks, the heavy traffic is not just a nuisance, but a safety concern. "There's a wreck almost every other day, it seems like," she says.

In 2006, the city made plans to alleviate the issue, but was not able to secure funding at the time. Now, with a local option sales tax, plus state and federal funds, the $37M has been allocated to building a new road, with ground breaking expected to happen early 2023.

Osbon says the payoff will be enormous.

"It's a relief of around 24% of the traffic in our most congested area in our city," he explains.

City manager Stuart Bedenbaugh says, while the project was "shelved" for several years after that initial 2006 proposal, it was a matter of time before it would come to fruition. 

“Council made this a priority, voters approved funding for it in 2018, and then we were able to get complementary funding for full project funding from the state and federal government,” says Bedenbaugh.

Senator Tom Young was in town to make the announcement along with other city leaders Thursday afternoon, acknowledging the team who worked to secure the funds for the project. 

“Our Aiken County legislative delegation has worked tirelessly together on this, and we are so happy with the final product, to see that this road will finally be funded to help alleviate traffic on Whiskey Road," said Young.

The Powderhouse Rd. connector project should take about 5 years to reach completion, according to Bedenbaugh, and upon completion, it could potentially bring new businesses and more housing to the area, as it will develop hundreds of acres, according to Osbon.

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