USC students and faculty have experienced a significantly different South Main Street this fall semester.
The South Main Street project, overseen by USC and the Department of Transportation, is aiming to revitalize the crosswalks, sidewalks and landscape of the street in order to improve it for cars, pedestrians and businesses. Construction for the more than $27 million project began last spring and is expected to be completed by summer 2025.
For now, all South Main Street parking will be closed and students will have to deal with varying sidewalk closures.
Derek Gruner, a university architect, said he believes the final project will improve the street overall.
"You (will) end up with a street environment that is not just about cars, but it's about the other forms of travel. It'll have more shade, trees and just be a more pleasant place to be," Gruner said.
According to Gruner, student safety is a top priority of the project, with a large part of the design focused on pedestrian safety.
"(The project is) making sure that the students can safely get across Main Street to get to Science and Technology and Darla Moore and the Koger Center and the School of Music — all of those buildings that are accessed along the Greene Street, College Street corridor across Main," Gruner said.
While Gruner hopes the project will improve the street, opinions on the construction are mixed.
Third-year psychology student Vanessa Dempsey said the new construction is "annoying" when going to class.
"I (usually) cut through, but (now) I have to go the long way, and then it makes it harder to get to class on time," Dempsey said.
However other students like first-year international business student Quintan Boyle said he is unaffected by the construction outside his dorm, the Honors Residence Hall.
"I just come to the crosswalk," Boyle said. "If anything, I feel like it's kind of easier because there's less traffic going up and down, and the cars go slower."
The construction is also affecting South Main Street's businesses through parking closures and accessibility. District Manager for Which Wich Mack Strickland said he was not anticipating the construction to impact customers as much.
"Our business went down at least 5% from last year, year over year, and that's primarily due to the construction traffic. I have no parking available," Strickland said. "We have to rely heavily on just walking customers."
Strickland also said he is unsure of whether the news plans will change the amount of foot traffic on South Main Street.
"A lot of (students) are going up Greene, and a lot of them are going up Pendleton," Strickland said. "They're not really going down Main Street."
Gruner said he thinks the project will help create a better environment for all the businesses on South Main Street.
“I could see restaurants with seating out on the sidewalk," Gruner said. "Some of the same things you see on the Main Street north of the state capitol I think could happen here and be just a really enjoyable place for our students to go."