LEE COUNTY, S.C. — A brighter path is on the way for Exit 116 in Bishopville as the county prepares for a new project that will add lighting and a new sidewalk from downtown Bishopville to the interstate.
The majority of the work will be completed along Sumter Highway (US-15) near the I-20 exit and entrance ramps.
Alan Watkins, the Lee County administrator, said it's a big deal for the busiest part of their county.
"About 60% of our retail sales in Lee County happen right here at this interstate interchange," he said.
"We were awarded what's called a TAP grant, a Transportation Alternative Program grant, and it's through SCDOT," Watkins said. "Our idea was to try and improve the lighting and accessibility to exit 116. When you travel on the interstate you see a lot of interstate exits are well lighted because we do think that does encourage travelers to pick this exit."
It's also to help those who live in Bishopville to safely commute to the businesses out near the interstate, as some of the workers walk or bike to the shops.
"There are probably 250 to 300 jobs out here, in total, between all the restaurants and the two truck stops so it gives the people the opportunity to access this in another way if they're seeking employment," Watkins said.
Several residents who live in Bishopville agree it's a plus for the community.
"There's a lot of people who walk at night," Allison McElven said. "It will make me feel safer personally driving just to make sure you can see everybody and there are quite a few who use wheelchairs, and bikes so it will be better for everybody."
Daryl Simmons also lives in Bishopville and regularly drives to the gas station near Exit 116 and is happy to hear about the changes, "Some people I see every morning here riding a bike to work so I think it will make it safer for them."
Watkins added that SCDOT is about to start looking for contractors for the project. Duke Energy will be responsible for the lighting.
He also said he anticipates the project to be completed not long after the first part of the year.