Claxton hopes latest U.S. Hwy. 280 delay is the last one - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Claxton hopes latest road delay is the last one

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Plenty of Evans County children have never seen Claxton's portion of U.S. Highway 280 without bulldozers and orange construction barrels. The widening from two lanes to five was supposed to be finished in October. But a rainy summer pushed that back to early 2013.

That's a relatively small delay in a project that started construction in 2005 and design work back in 1991.

"It's certainly been longer than we ever expected," noted Claxton mayor Luther Royal. "But we hope the benefits will be well worth the inconveniences."

Royal said the economic downturn slowed the tax revenues that paid for the project. In addition, railroad engineers took a year to determine how they would shift the tracks in the middle of town that had to be moved to make room for extra road lanes, the mayor added. Plus, contractors discovered water, sewer, gas and drainage lines that needed replacement and/or repair and that work halted the grading and paving.

Local businesses said the construction has taken its toll on them. Dale Parker, of The Claxton Bakery and Claxton Fruitcake, said it has been harder to get tractor trailers on and off the highway and into their loading area. The work has also temporarily taken away their parking in front of their building.

"It's been a major project. It will be a nice addition to Claxton when it's done. But it's taken a while," Parker said.

Other business owners said the widening hurts them. Folks at The Country Gentleman barber shop said the retaining wall under the railroad tracks cuts them out of sight for drivers on the highway. In addition, the one-way street in front of them makes them harder to reach.

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