Botanical Parkway to reopen at long last

Driving to the zoo is about to get a lot easier.

The West Columbia road to the botanical gardens at Riverbanks Zoo is set to reopen at 3 p.m. this Sunday, according to Lexington County officials.


The barricades will come down Sunday when the county officially reopens the rebuilt Botanical Parkway in West Columbia. (Photo by Terry Ward)

The reopening of Botanical Parkway was announced Friday by Lexington County Council and the Public Works Department.

“The reopening of Botanical Parkway was critical for the residents of the Saluda Mill community, who use the road as a main thoroughfare for daily commutes to work and school,” said Lexington County Council Chairman Todd Cullum.

Cullum said the project is opening a month ahead of schedule and under budget.

He lauded the cooperation between County Council, the Public Works department, Infrastructure Consulting and Engineering of Columbia, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Cherokee Construction, the contractor that rebuilt the road damaged in last year’s catastrophic flooding.


Botanical Parkway in West Columbia was shut down when a portion collapsed during the devastating 2015 flood. (Photo provided)

Botanical Parkway was closed after its two eight-foot-high culverts collapsed on Double Branch Creek, which runs under the road, in the flooding of October 2015.

County Council approved engineering plans for the road’s repair in January and construction began on July 18. The budget for the fix was $790,000, but according to the county, the repair cost just $760,000.

The upgrade of Botanical Parkway over the creek includes “a sturdier concrete culvert. The new design is stronger and more durable, allowing for a 30-percent increase in water capacity to flow underneath the roadway,” according to a county news release.

Zoo officials are pleased to get Botanical Parkway back up and running.

“The October 2015 flood could not have come at a worse time,” said Riverbanks Zoo and Garden President and CEO Satch Krantz.

“The opening of our new children’s garden, Waterfall Junction, was just months away and easy access to the Botanical Garden was critical to its success,” he added. “The County’s Council and staff immediately recognized the importance of getting Botanical Parkway back open as quickly as possible. We are delighted to see that this massive project will open ahead of schedule, thanks to their efforts.”

In addition to local residents, commuters, and zoo visitors, the reopening of the roadway is also important for emergency responders who use the thoroughfare to navigate to and from emergency scenes, county officials said.