Long talked about plans to connect Lake Murray to downtown Columbia via the 10.5-mile Lower Saluda Greenway trail system are coming into focus thanks to $8 million allocated in this year’s state budget.
Let’s take a quick look at what the Lower Saluda Greenway means for Soda Citizens, and the potential challenges the project may face moving forward.
Once complete, the Lower Saluda Greenway will connect with the Saluda River Greenway — located behind Riverbanks Zoo — creating a continuous network of trails from Lake Murray to downtown Columbia. The long-term vision of the project shows an opportunity not only for walking but commuting to the Capital City via bicycle.
With several access points planned along the river, bike-friendly paths and shared walkways will connect several Irmo area schools and neighborhoods.
Carolina Crossroads construction, the ~10-year $1.4 billion project to improve 14 miles of I-20, I-26, and I-126, comes into play since the trail will run underneath Interstates 20 and 26. Director of the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission, Mark Smyers, said to the Post and Courier that this construction would be coordinated with SCDOT.
1989 — Irmo citizens created the Lower River Corridor Plan to provide a vision for the conservation and enhancement of the river.
2000 — A community workshop initiated by the Lower Saluda Scenic River Advisory Council developed a plan to create a trail system along with river management plans + safety concerns.
2021 — Central Midlands + Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission release the Lower Saluda Greenway Feasibility Study, an in-depth study of the project and its potential.
2022 — Last week, the Boyd Foundation shared news of the Broad River Pedestrian Bridge, expected to be completed in 2023, ultimately connecting Saluda River trails to the downtown area.
The Lower Saluda Greenway project ties into a grander vision of developing towards Columbia’s riverfronts, further showcasing the rivers that have long been the lifeblood of the Soda City.