GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – Upstate leaders are putting a stretch of road on a “diet.”

Safety improvements are on the way for Augusta Street in the City of Greenville, to help traffic and pedestrians.

“About nine months ago, the City of Greenville got really serious and targeted in on how to make Augusta Street more safe, both for pedestrians and bikers, but also for vehicles,” said Beth Brotherton, Communications Director, for the City of Greenville.

This is an area that has for many years, been one of our highest areas of traffic accidents. It is a very thin road, where often, even if it’s a minor car accident, whether it’s knocking off a side mirror because cars have to drive so close together. It’s just been an area of regular complaint,” Brotherton said.

Some residents said traffic on Augusta Street is always bustling for such a narrow road.

“It’s pretty bad in terms of people speeding through. There seems to be no regard for basic human safety,” said resident Isaac Fitch. “We had to put in a fence to make our main access point be in the back of our house, just for safety reasons for our children.”

“We live right here on the corner and I would say in the four years that we’ve been here, I know of three accidents right on our corner,” said resident Katie Lyn Godsey. 

“Last summer, a young mother who was out jogging with her dog was struck and killed by a vehicle, while she was on the sidewalk, and while this area had been under review, this really was an opportunity for the city, not only on Augusta Street, but city-wide, to start looking at where are some of these hot spots that we really need to target our time and attention to make sure they are safe for walkers, for bikers, and for cars,” Brotherton said.

“City council dedicated some money to do a study city-wide, but also said, we need to start with Augusta Street, understanding that it’s been for many years, a source of concern for the people who live near there and the fact that there are three schools very near that area,” Brotherton said.

Officials have a solution to some of the traffic woes. They plan to create a “road diet,” in phase one along the residential section of the street.

“If you think about what a diet diet is, a road diet is also a reduction. So, in this case, it is a reduction in the number of lanes, from Augusta street going from a four lane street to a three lane street,” Brotherton said. “So you will have one lane going in each direction, and then you’ll have a center turn lane, that will allow for safer turns and fewer accidents, and also give us more space in between the curb and where the sidewalks are,” she said.

City of Greenville’s proposed plan for Augusta Street

The road diet will start at Augusta Place and goes down to Crystal Avenue, just before Mauldin Road.

“I hope the city does it just because when we turn left to come into this house just working here, I’m always scared we’re going to get rear-ended,” said Ashley Semmler, of Semmler Metal Design Inc. “There’s always people not paying attention on their phones and things like that,” Semmler said.

Brotherton said while restriping this section, they will continue the study while planning for future phases. She also said the study will allow them to make safety improvements quickly while planning bike, pedestrian options, and look at permanent barriers and landscaping.

“One of the things this does is expand each lane and allow cars to drive further away from the edge of the road, and so therefore, giving a few more feet of leeway, and then later on in other phases we can look at do we need to further move sidewalks,” Brotherton said.

Some residents hope this will make a positive change on their street.

“The idea of maybe decreasing that a little bit or maybe having people maybe drive a little slower and the option for a turn lane is really exciting for us,” Godsey said.

“I mean I feel good that they’re actually trying to do something about it,” Fitch said. “At least trying something is going to help us in the long run,” he said.

Brotherton said they are looking at doing the road diet in March, adding that it’s a fairly easy process and not costly.

She also said future phases would include the commercial section, but also potential for construction based on what is learned in phase one.

“Potentially looking at what can be done in the commercial session which is troublesome, but perhaps not as troublesome,” Brotherton said.

If you’re wondering about other streets outside this project, leaders also said a study is being conducted citywide.

“Our council members who represent some of the other districts ask that question as well. So at the end of the budget process, June of last year, a couple of council members came forward with a final amendment that added a quarter of a million dollars to do a citywide study and identify the top 10 to 12 areas, where either the most pedestrian accidents, the most vehicle accidents or the most reports of concern,” Brotherton said. “So that study is going on simultaneously, and as that study is completed, and we begin to identify other areas of concern.”

“One of the big ones that popped up was Stone Avenue where there’s a lot of trouble there. North Main has been another area that is highly residential, but also very high traveled,” Brotherton said.