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City, developer working on another way into center
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Currently, access to the renovated Fort Howard Square, shown here during the last stages of phase 1, is limited to Highway 21. Developers hope to open entrances on Fort Howard Road. - photo by File photo

The Fort Howard Square shopping center could mean some changes to Fort Howard Road at its intersection with Highway 21.

Rincon City Manager Donald Toms went over plans for access to the recently-renovated shopping center from Fort Howard Road at a city council workshop Thursday night. The city and the center’s developers, Augusta-based Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial, are looking at ways to get traffic in and out of the plaza and to ease traffic at the Fort Howard Road/Highway 21 intersection.

Along with that, the city plans to put pipe in the ditches along Fort Howard Road to Lisa Street, eventually covering them and putting in a sidewalk.

“Once we close them in, we’ll put in the third lane and curb and gutter as we go,” Toms said. “That way, we can control the flow of stormwater.”

The sidewalks also will make it easier for residents who live along Lisa Street or in the Lost Plantation and Williamsburg subdivisions to walk to the shopping center.

“We notice there are a lot of residents who live there and if there was a sidewalk, they would walk or bike to it,” Toms said.

Putting in sidewalks would “make it more of a hometown feel,” he added.

The first step is working with the developer to do the cut-in lane. Toms said he hopes the sidewalk from Highway 21 to Lisa Street will be completed by the summer.

Current plans call for two entrances to Fort Howard Square from Fort Howard Road. The one closest to the Highway 21 intersection will have a right turn in and right turn out only. The second entrance, closer to Lisa Street, could have a left turn out onto Fort Howard Road.

Toms said there could be two lanes turning left from Fort Howard Road onto Highway 21 to alleviate morning traffic congestion. For now, the state Department of Transportation has the third lane going the other way.

“We clearly recognize that’s not what we need,” Toms said.

The city is expected to express its desire to the DOT to have the third lane turning left onto Highway 21. Toms said he hopes that can be done this year but realized that may not happen, in light of other DOT priorities and utility relocation that would have to take place.

“We have no exact time frame for that,” he said.

Also under consideration is a traffic light at Lisa Street and Fort Howard Road.

Redevelopment of the 100,000 square foot shopping center was completed in December. Phase 2 is expected to start later this year.

Toms also praised the work of the city’s new construction inspector, Mark Slaughter. Slaughter came from EMC Engineering, which has the contract for the city’s engineering services.

His main focus has been streets and drainage problems, particularly those around St. Andrews Street.

“In two weeks, he has made a significant impact on our community,” Toms said.

Eight people sentenced to community service in the city picked up 20 bags of trash along Highway 21 last Saturday, Toms said. City public works employees were with them to dispose of the trash properly.

“It’s much cleaner than it’s been in a while,” he said.

Toms added the city may have such community service details out on the roads once a month.

“The community should see more and more of that community service,” he said.