The congested Dougherty Road and Whiskey Road intersection may see a bit of relief soon if Aiken City Council chooses to move forward on a few road projects.

Status of projects:

Whiskey Road and Dougherty Road intersection:

• SCDOT has reviewed and approved final plans and an encroachment permit

• The right-of-way needs to be acquired, costing approximately $60,000

• The State Transportation Infrastructure Bank gives $900,000 for the project

• The City needs agreement from the state for this project, which is currently one of three projects totaling $13.5 million which Council approved in summer 2013

• The City has spent approximately $98,781 for engineering

• The estimated cost for right-of-way and construction is about $1.2 million

Dougherty Road to Aiken Mall:

• The right-of-way has been acquired

• Construction plans and cost estimate need to be finalized

• Approximately $208,603 funding is available from Capital Project Sales Tax II

According to a memo to Council provided by interim City Manager Roger LeDuc

Council is currently looking at two road improvement projects that address the intersection of Whiskey and Dougherty roads and the 1-mile stretch from Dougherty Road to Aiken Mall.

The projects were conceived more than a decade ago, and interim City Manager Roger LeDuc has asked Council to move them forward. Both of these projects were part of the City of Aiken and Aiken County's joint Dougherty Road Corridor Study, which kicked off in early 2012.

The study has sat on the sidelines since then, but LeDuc said these improvements should offset some residents' concerns about driving in that area.

The first project is to add an additional right-hand turn lane from Dougherty Road onto Whiskey Road to improve traffic flow. The City currently has $900,000 allotted from the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank for the additional turn lane and other development. Roughly $98,000 has been spent to date on engineering. The total estimated cost for the project will be almost $1.2 million.

The second project is to extend Christee Place off Dougherty Road into the East Gate Shopping Center, which would allow drivers easier access into the Publix and Aiken Mall area without having to drive on Whiskey Road.

“The main focus of these projects is to eliminate vehicles having to go all the way down Dougherty to Whiskey, and then go down Whiskey two to three blocks and turn into Publix or the mall,” LeDuc said.

So far, the right-of-way has been acquired for the second project, and currently, approximately $208,603 of Capital Project Sales Tax round two funds are available. There was originally $350,000 for this project, and most of the funds were allocated for engineering and the purchase of the property at 911 Murrah Ave. That purchase was approved by Council last fall.

LeDuc said the next step is discussion with a traffic engineer to look at ways to improve the stretch for future Council approval.

“About 90 percent of the lots on either side of Dougherty are in the county,” LeDuc said. “We're solving a lot of issues, and a lot of it isn't in the City. But it's why it's important to work together, because many of our residents use that road, along with county residents.”

Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree with the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.