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Interstate 20 or I -20 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The highway forms an east-west route through the center of the state, from the Georgia border at North Augusta through the capital Columbia to I-95 at Florence. Interstate 20 is 227 kilometers long.
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The eastern terminus of I-20 at I-95 near Florence.
Interstate 20 in Georgia comes from Atlanta and Augusta and crosses the Savannah River, which forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina. Shortly after the starting point, Interstate 520 joins as a bypass of Augusta. This is followed by a rural stretch of almost 100 kilometers to the metropolitan area of Columbia. I-20 here leads through an alternation of meadows and forests and has 2×2 lanes.
One then reaches the metropolitan area of Columbia at Lexington. I-20 has 2×3 lanes from here and through a relatively sparsely built suburban area west of the city. Deeper into the city, there is an interchange with Interstate 26. I-20 then crosses the Broad River to form Columbia’s northern bypass. I-20 also has 2×3 lanes here and has interchanges with State Route 277 and Interstate 77.
This is followed by a more than 100 kilometers long route to the end point at Florence. The highway soon narrows back to 2×2 lanes, but the area is still somewhat suburbanized as far as Camden. Camden also crosses the Wateree River. I-20 then passes through a rural area with quite a bit of forest and ends at the small town of Florence at an interchange with Interstate 95. From Florence, US 76 then continues to the Atlantic coast.
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I-20 near Camden.
Prior to the construction of I-20, US 1 was the primary route between Augusta and Columbia and US 76 was the primary route between Columbia and Florence. However, US 76 went further south via Sumter, with the section between Columbia and Sumter being equipped with 2×2 lanes early on. I-20 was later chosen to go further north via Camden, closer to US 1. Between Camden and Florence, no US Highway preceded Interstate 20.
Not much is known about the construction history of Interstate 20 in South Carolina. The oldest parts were the section at Augusta and the Columbia bypass. The first part was probably the stretch from I-26 to US 321 at Columbia, including a bridge over the Broad River, which opened in the mid-1960s. On April 3, 1967, the westernmost portion of North Augusta opened to traffic as far as US 25. By 1970 the route was completed as far as Columbia, according to GDOT historical maps. The section from Columbia to Florence was opened in the period 1973-1976.
The route around the capital Columbia was originally rural in character and ran quite far from the city and did not have many connections here for an urban highway. With the growth of the region in the 1990s and after 2000, the rural character of the I-20 has been lost here, although large parts still had only 2×2 lanes available for a longer period of time.
During the planning of the Interstate Highways network, a terminus on I-95 near Florence made sense. Today a connection further to Myrtle Beach on the Atlantic coast would not be out of place. The reason this wasn’t planned at the time was the fact that Myrtle Beach had fewer than 10,000 residents in the 1960s and 1970s. Today it is a considerably larger city than Florence.
The first section to have 2×3 lanes was the Columbia Bypass, from US 378 west of the city to I-77 east of the city. This section was widened to 2×3 lanes in the late 1980s.
Between October 2012 and May 2014, 11 miles of I-20 east of Columbia was widened from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes, up to Exit 82. Until June 2022, a 17-kilometer stretch along Lexington west of Columbia has been extended to 2×3 lanes widened. Thus, the entire stretch through the Columbia metropolitan area had 2×3 lanes.
The “Malfunction Junction” is a cloverleaf without shunting lanes between I-20 and I-26 in Columbia. It is planned to convert this node in due course, in 2013 money has been pledged for an exploration. This led to the ‘Carolina Crossroads’ study and includes I-26 between Broad River Road (US 176, Exit 101) and US 378 (Exit 110). The interchange with I-20 has several variants, including turbine shapes with a varying number of loops and direct connecting roads. Another alternative is that the current interchange will be canceled and the interchange between I-20, I-26 and I-126 will be moved all the way south on a new route. Combined with the I-26 approach, the cost is estimated at $1.6 billion. It is considered the highest priority project in South Carolina. The contract for the first phase was awarded on 12 May 2021. Construction formally began on November 8, 2021. Work will be carried out in phases until mid-2029.
Extension to Wilmington
In 2003, the North Carolina DOT proposed extending I-20 from Florence to Wilmington. This route should follow the existing US 76, which is already largely 2×2 expanded. Many places on the route in North Carolina are in favor of the extension, but the South Carolina DOT has shown no interest, preferring beach vacationers to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Wilmington, North Carolina. They prefer to build Interstate 73 from North Carolina to Myrtle Beach.
Every day, 58,000 vehicles cross the Georgia border near Augusta. After that, 30,000 vehicles per day will travel on the rural portion between Augusta and Columbia, rising rapidly from Lexington to 62,000 vehicles per day, peaking at 91,000 vehicles east of the I-26 interchange. The busiest point is on the bridge over the Congaree River with 105,000 vehicles per day. East of SC-277, intensities drop to 61,000 vehicles per day, briefly peaking at 74,000 vehicles east of I-77, before dropping to 25,000 to 35,000 vehicles further as far as I-95 near Florence.
|exit 0||Exit 51||2×2|
|Exit 51||Exit 82||2×3||Columbia|
|Exit 82||Exit 141||2×2|