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Carolina Crossroads project plans to update Malfunction Junction


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Hands up if you’ve ever been personally victimized by Malfunction Junction. ✋ (Okay, I can’t see you, but I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s about 99% of you.) Any Columbia native knows the disaster that is the I-20, I-26 and I-126 interchange + it goes without saying that if you can avoid it during rush hour, do so at all costs.

Well, here’s some news that’ll help clear up some of the congestion.

Feelings while driving through Malfunction Junction | Gif via Giphy

Last week, the South Carolina Department of Transportation received a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers approving a $1.6 billion plan to remake the “Malfunction Junction” interchange system.

Carolina Crossroads, as the project has been named, will replace cloverleaf loops with longer entrance and exit ramps, update seven interchanges, add a 12-foot lane for emergency vehicles and add another lane in each direction on I-26. Phases one and two of the project (which consists of five total phases) will begin in 2021. These phases will take place on I-126 at Colonial Life Boulevard + I-20 at Broad River Road.

The permit gives the state 15 years to complete the project – however, officials expect it to be complete by 2029.

Breaking it down by the numbers

$1.6 billion – the total estimated cost of the project

15 years – the length of the permit received from the US Army Corps of Engineers

2029 – the year the project is expected to be completed

14 miles – the number of highway miles that will be improved

7 – the number of interchanges that will be rebuilt

5 – the number of phases the project includes (the first of which will begin next year)

144,000+ – the number of cars that pass through Malfunction Junction each day

County and state officials believe the Carolina Crossroads project will not only improve the flow of traffic through Columbia, but will also help the city grow. With plans taking growth patterns past 2040 into consideration, officials believe businesses will be more likely to plant roots in Columbia + statewide transportation will be made easier.