New sidewalks to improve student commute on Blue Ridge Drive

Current sidewalk ends at Commons Dr intersection

There’s new sidewalk being installed on a portion of Blue Ridge Drive in Columbia County. School officials nearby said it’s welcomed to help ensure the safety of their students.

“I’m relieved especially for these really little ones that walk to school. I see them when I drive in the morning,” said Lakeside High School Assistant Principal Dorcas Powell.

New sidewalks are being installed from Evans to Locks Road to Commons Drive — a path frequented by students at schools nearby.

“We started looking at schools that needed sidewalks put around them,” said Columbia County Engineering Services Division Director Matt Schlachter.

The current sidewalk ends at Commons Drive forcing students to choose between a grassy area or oncoming traffic.

“They’ll walk into the street because they don’t want to get their shoes wet or the bottom of their pants wet and they end up in the street or really close and that’s really a hazard for them as well as the drivers,” said Powell.

To help relieve that hazard, there will also be a crosswalk added between the schools and Evans to Locks Road.

“We’re going to put up signs that have yellow lights on them and they’re activated by the pedestrian so when the pedestrian wants to cross the street, and it activates bright LED lights,” said Schlachter.

The project costs $79,756 worth of TSPLOST discretionary funds, and county officials called it money well spent.

“You can go out and spend a half a million dollars on intersection improvement and that’s one project. I can do a lot of sidewalk projects for half a million dollars,” said Schlachter.

Schlacter added that this sidewalk project is part of a bigger effort to help make a car-less commute a safer one as well. “We’ll expand down Blue Ridge Drive. Eventually we’ll go up Clark point down the pass and tie back to state route 28 – Fury’s Ferry Road – so we’ll have a major network that ties Savannah Rapids to the schools to reed creek interpretive center. A great network to actually move these folks around without needing their car.”

Construction on the Blue Ridge Drive sidewalks will take place daily from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. It may require lane closures or lane shifts along Blue Ridge Drive, and should be completed by July 31st.


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