Aiken City Council, developer team up to amend Rutland Drive intersection

September 12, 2018

The Aiken City Council has finalized and formalized a partnership with a commercial developer to improve the Rutland Drive-Laurens Street intersection.

On Monday night, City Council unanimously approved spending up to $90,000 to reform the Northside intersection, which is just down the street from Aiken High School.

City Council member Lessie Price was not present for the vote.

The city’s contribution is sourced from its economic development fund.

The total cost of the improvements – new turn lanes, a median and changed entrances and exits – is estimated at $124,000, according to City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh. WTS of Rutland LLC, the company developing an adjacent 5-acre lot at 1012 Laurens St. N.W., will pay any remainder, per the newly approved contract.

The $124,000 does not include traffic light signalization improvements, which would cost thousands more.

City Council approved the first reading of the contract Aug. 13.

All changes to the intersection, according to now-approved site plans for the 1012 Laurens St. N.W. development, will be made with the state transportation department ’s nod.

Sprint Foods and Dollar Tree will anchor the development, labelled the Rutland Corner Commercial Center on site plans. More retail space is still up for grabs, according to signage on the property.

On Monday night, Jim Price – who is helping develop the commercial center and represented parties interested in the property at an earlier Planning Commission meeting – said the upgrades will be well received.

Planning Director Ryan Bland has said the intersection has its fair share of traffic complaints.

Jim Price told City Council a recent traffic study proved the intersection’s flaws.

“If you don’t believe me, you just need to go out there and look,” Jim Price said.

City Council member Ed Girardeau agreed the intersection needs fixing.

The intersection is often busy because of its location: School traffic can back up there at drop-off and pick-up times, and vehicles headed downtown or to and from I-20 converge there.

The city has struck “similar” improvement deals with businesses and developments along Whiskey Road, according to Bedenbaugh. City Council member Dick Dewar pushed back on that claim, though.

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