Commuters drive down the 2-mile Jamil Road lined with litter and potholes. (Photos by Jocelyn Dussault/Carolina News and Reporter)

A Lexington County road soon will become two lanes of interstate – a change coming about a year earlier than expected. 

Jamil Road is popular with commuters. Running along I-26 northwest of Columbia, it connects Piney Grove Road to St. Andrews Road with seven access points to multiple neighborhoods. 

The frontage road won’t be on a map for much longer, because the widening of I-26 and I-20 will be accelerated in early 2024, South Carolina Department of Transportation officials announced in October 2023. 

Strategic Communications Director Ginny Jones wouldn’t say whether the department plans to rebuild Jamil Road as a new frontage road.

Original plans for widening I-26 had the work set to begin around 2027 as a part of the fifth and final phase of SCDOT’s Carolina Crossroads project. Construction that involved the elimination of various frontage roads was set to begin around 2025 as a part of the fourth phase.

Details of the updated project sequence and schedule are still being finalized, Jones said in an email.

“We look forward to sharing those with the public as soon as we can,” Jones said.

The transportation department is investing $2.08 billion to improve the intersection of I-20 and I-26, commonly known as “Malfunction Junction.”

Travelers have waited decades for the state to eliminate “the need to weave across three lanes of traffic over a half-mile distance to connect to the next interstate,” as described on a department website. 

Jamil Road is only a few miles from the junction, one of the state’s pivotal, most heavily trafficked stretches of interstate used by cross-state travelers and local residents alike.

The teardown of Jamil Road is already underway, affecting hundreds of properties.

Trees are marked to be removed. 

Homes and businesses have been demolished after SCDOT negotiated their purchase. 

Neighborhoods that right now use the 2-mile access road include the Whitehall subdivision, Gleneagle Apartment Homes, Williamsburg West and the Lakewood Village Condominiums.

Many residents have said “Not in our backyard,” winning a small battle with the transportation department.

Nearly one thousand residents of Whitehall submitted feedback to SCDOT in 2018 after the department proposed connecting Tram Road – which runs directly through Whitehall – via a bridge across the interstate to Beatty Road to allow for easier traffic flow and emergency access to neighborhoods on both sides of I-26. 

Most wrote about potential impacts the bridge could have, such as increasing commercial traffic, noise and crime and decreasing property values.

SCDOT officials elected to remove the bridge from the plans after reviewing public input. 

William Arledge, a Whitehall resident for more than 30 years, submitted comments to SCDOT voicing his displeasure and opposition to the entire Carolina Crossroads project. 

“This proposed project would devalue the price of my home and start the destruction of the Whitehall neighborhood,” Arledge wrote in comments displayed on a department website. “Please DO NOT destroy this beautiful longstanding Columbia neighborhood.”

Many Whitehall residents already were concerned that only a small patch of woods separates Jamil Road from the backyards of their homes.

Many area residents posted on the app NextDoor to express their opinions on the project. 

Some are for the I-26 widening while still criticizing specific parts of the plan.

“Lexington County don’t care about this part of the county. Out of sight out of mind,” Piney Grove resident Fay J. wrote. 

Elizabeth Johnson, a Whitehall resident, said she wants SCDOT to speed up the remodel. She’s concerned for the safety of the many people who walk along the curbless road.

“Newly moved here … Jamil Road is a death wish!” Johnson wrote. “So many potholes and I have almost hit several people walking! … Please begin demolition, please!!!!!!”

Some commuters are unaware the expansion will begin sooner than once expected. 

“I’m 56 and the SCDOT won’t expand those lanes for another 40 years, so I’m not worried about it,” Lexington resident Mike Edwards wrote on Nextdoor. “I’ll probably be dead.” 

The Carolina Crossroads project has relocated 1,243 properties so far.

The project’s 10-year plan includes 132 new lane miles, 14 widened interstate miles, 43 new bridges and seven reconstructed interchanges. 

Multiple businesses on Jamil Road relocated entirely and the buildings were torn down – including Grier Roofing, U-Haul, Fireworks Supermarket and Lanier Scuba. 

Businesses such as CubeSmart Self Storage and Nimmer Turf of Irmo will move farther back from the reconstruction but remain on the same property. 

The storage units at CubeSmart won’t be moved, but the main office will be relocated further back on the property, said manager Lauryn Landy.

“I don’t feel like they need to expand the highway,” Landy said. “But more and more people are moving here. So, I get it.”

Nimmer Turf is also relocating on the same property. It will move backward 50 feet, said manager Stephen Todd.

Todd said he thinks the reconstruction will benefit the area. 

“Hopefully, they’ll clean up the roads, redo it, and get rid of all the places where homeless people were living, because crimes have been pretty bad,” Todd said. 

Jamil Shrine Temple – a non-profit organization and event center that gave Jamil Road its name – will remain because of the large hill it’s positioned on, building manager Edward Simpson said. 

SCDOT will release the construction news update as soon as it can, Ginny Jones said.

Subscribe to SCDOT’s news releases and follow the Carolina Crossroads project on social media channels for information on upcoming detours.

Trees lining Jamil Road are marked with white tape, indicating they soon will be cut down.

Rush hour traffic starts on Jamil Road around 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Demolition is underway on properties closest to Jamil Road in the Gleneagle Apartment Homes neighborhood.

The floor is the only thing that remains of the demolished Fireworks Supermarket.