COLUMBIA — Between glances at the road construction happening just to the north of her home at 4051 S. Scott Blvd., Linda Cooperstock shovels mulch onto pampas grass in her front yard.
In the distance, neon orange- and green-vested figures move along the top of a bridge spanning Hinkson Creek. Closer by, the driver of an SUV appears uncertain how to exit the new roundabout at Vawter School Road.
A stretch of Scott Boulevard between Vawter School Road and West Bellview Drive closed five months ago, so a bridge over Hinkson Creek and a roundabout at Vawter School Road could be replaced. The stretch is scheduled to reopen by 8 p.m. Friday.
Since May 2009, Cooperstock and others who live on and near Scott Boulevard have been dealing with construction that has transformed parts of what was once a two-lane road without shoulders into a four-lane boulevard.
The Friday reopening completes the second phase of a three-phase project, with the final phase — adding additional lanes south of Vawter School Road to Route KK — scheduled for completion in 2017. The total cost of all three phases is an estimated $31.9 million.
Despite activity that forced her to take detours and kicked up "tremendous" clouds of dust, Cooperstock said she has nothing but positive feelings about the outcome.
"It's an inconvenience that you need to tolerate in order for improvement," she said.
Steven Sapp of the city Public Works Department said the stretch that's being reopened Friday was closed to all traffic as a way to save about $1.5 million on construction costs.
"For a lot of people, it's been a painful project because we shut the roadway completely down," Sapp said. "We did that because we want to get this project completed in a short amount of time — five months instead of 13 or 14 months."
Cooperstock said she traded and sold parts of her land to accommodate construction. In exchange, city workers built a new driveway and put a sidewalk out front. She has been planting tall grass because she can't grow trees under the new power lines.
Cooperstock said she is glad the new bridge has pedestrian walkways. When she used to walk her two black Labs over Hinkson Creek, she said, it felt as though each crossing might be the last.
"You took your life into your hands to cross," she said, adding that she used to wait for a break in traffic before hustling across the bridge with her dogs.
She also said the road near the bridge used to flood two or three times per year. Construction workers raised the road 9 feet to avoid such floods, Sapp said.
Sapp said a project to extend Scott Boulevard north from West Broadway to Route E and connect the street to Interstate 70 is waiting on an estimated $68 million in funding. There is no planned date to start construction.