SCDOT readies for property acquisitions for ‘Malfunction Junction’ fix in Columbia

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This map by the SCDOT outlines the construction phases for the Carolina Crossroads project.This map by the SCDOT outlines the construction phases for the Carolina Crossroads project.

The S.C. Department of Transportation is preparing to begin right-of-way acquisition for the $1.5 billion project to reconstruct the interchange of Interstates 20, 26 and 126 in Columbia, dubbed “Malfunction Junction.”

The SCDOT has labeled the project, called Carolina Crossroads, its top interstate priority. The right-of-way acquisitions involves 300 parcels and are expected to be completed this summer for phases 1 and 2 of the five-phase project. Construction on those phases is set to begin next year. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2029.

The project received key federal approval in May. It consists of 14 interstate miles, 12 interchanges and spans on I-20 from west of the Saluda River crossing to the Broad River; I-26 from Broad River Road to US-378; and I-126 from I-26 to east of Colonial Life Boulevard.

The interchange area’s roadways are outdated, built in the 1950s and 1960s with the last updates in the 1970s and 1980s, according to SCDOT. The area is also expected to see a 70 percent increase by 2024, causing even more traffic congestion. The agency also says the interchange sees a higher crash rate than other freeway-to-freeway systems in the state.