Work to make Columbia’s South Main St. less ugly starts soon. When to expect construction

Joshua Boucher/jboucher@thestate.com

A project to turn the concrete jungle that is Columbia’s South Main Street into a more beautiful and more pedestrian-friendly corridor is moving tangibly forward.

Residents should expect construction on the street south of the state Capitol complex to begin in spring 2023, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

The department previously said work would likely begin in early 2023, and should be complete by fall 2024.

A spokesperson for the department, Robert Kudelka, said the project is still on schedule.

The work is expected to cost more than $23 million and will use city, county, state and federal dollars, as well as money from the University of South Carolina.

Plans to go from five lanes to two, install green space, widen sidewalks and add bike lanes on South Main between Pendleton and Blossom streets have been in the works since at least 2017.

The project has been delayed several times due to rising construction costs continually pushing the work over budget.

The state transportation department conducted an initial study on the corridor renovation in 2017 at the request of USC, which had previously identified the street as a logical thoroughfare for students.

Renovating the street is also part of the university’s vision for westward expansion, first laid out in the early 1990s.

“That segment of Main Street has not seen the quality of development that you see on other urban streets,” USC architect Derek Gruner previously told The State. With the westward move, South Main “finds itself very near the heart of our campus,” he added.

The stretch of road where the work will occur is home to cafe Immaculate Consumption, Green Olive Restaurant, Hunter-Gatherer Brewery and Alehouse and several other businesses, as well as academic buildings and a university residence hall.

The university’s frequent collaborator, design firm Sasaki, authored a 2017 plan that included recommendations for pedestrian promenades and wide stretches of green space on South Main Street.

The university owns a large amount of the South Main property between Pendleton and Blossom Streets, which is one reason the university has been so involved with the project.

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The South Carolina Department of Transportation is leading the project.