Road work continues

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Construction workers continue improvements to medians and crosswalks on Francis Marion Road.

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

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Construction on Highway 327 around FMU began to create a more aesthetically pleasing campus and implement safety regulations for pedestrians.

With the recently completed Griffin Athletic Complex and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry across the street, pedestrian traffic has picked up in recent years.  The four-lane road currently posts a 35 mph speed limit, but drivers often ignore the speed limit.  These two hazardous conditions placed together are a recipe for disaster.  In order to combat the dangers presented to pedestrians on Highway 327, FMU has combined forces with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to make improvements.

The new safety system will feature raised, curbed medians with trees and shrubbery to signal drivers to slow down.  Creating a smaller roadway with medians and obvious crosswalks has been proven to cause drivers to decrease their speed.  Not only will the medians provide a safety precaution for pedestrians, but it will also be more aesthetically pleasing in the long-term plans that FMU has to extend to both sides of the street.  These plans for the future would make Highway 327 a main roadway through the center of campus, as opposed to a heavily trafficked state road.

In addition to medians and curbs, sidewalks and pedestrian-controlled traffic signals are being added to existing crosswalks.  Sidewalks are not currently available on the outer perimeter of FMU’s campus but are being added as part of the expansion plans.  The pedestrian crossing signals will provide a safer walking path from the main campus to the athletic complex.

The road project is being funded primarily by the SCDOT’s state enhancement grant that provides funds for small-scale safety improvements.  The remainder of the bill is being covered by funds from FMU set aside for improvements.

The construction being done to Palmetto Street in front of FMU is not in conjunction with the roadwork being done on Highway 327.  The Palmetto Street project is a state-affiliated project to fix water and cable lines.

In addition to the roadwork being done to improve the campus, FMU has purchased over 100 acres of land on the western side of campus for future expansion.  The previous Kangaroo gas station across the street that has been demolished is the future sight of a McDonalds. The McDonald’s expects to get 90 percent of their employees from FMU students.

The roadwork is scheduled to be completed sometime mid-April; however, recent heavy rainfall has pushed the construction slightly off course.  While the construction may be wrapped up soon, FMU does not plan to stop expanding any time soon.  Among new buildings for health science, a School of Business and a School of Education, FMU plans to continue growing in the future.

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