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BOILING SPRINGS, S.C. -- A gasoline price war sparked by the grand opening of a QuikTrip in Boiling Springs, S.C., has caused traffic problems for three weeks, but state officials are working on a solution, according to a Herald-Journal report.
The convenience store and gas station on Highway 9 opened its doors on Oct. 7, but because its access points are on Candlenut Lane, a dead-end road leading to the highway, the area has been plagued with cars lining up to reach the pumps ever since.
"It has been crazy," local resident Roger Williams Jr. told the newspaper. "They definitely need to do something there. It has made the simple things like getting to and from home very difficult. We're looking forward to a solution."
It isn't just the existence of a new gas station that's caused the problem; to celebrate its grand opening, the QuikTrip offered very low prices on fuel, prompting the RaceWay across the street to respond in kind and leading to a price war that pushed the per-gallon rate as low as $2.80. Out-of-towners have since flocked to the station to take advantage, leading to gridlock when drivers try to turn left onto Candlenut Lane to get back to I-85 from Highway 9. Local residents have suggested a light with a left-turn signal, according to the report.
Meanwhile, the S.C. Department of Transportation is on the job. Traffic engineer Eric Dillon told the Herald-Journal that the department expects to finish collecting traffic counts by the end of the week and that it is considering options such as a traffic light and additional lanes.
"When we got wind of QT, we knew this was already a congested area," said Dillon. "We now recognize there is an issue there and we're doing everything we can to find the best solution for everyone."
Higher fuel prices may also help; the price of a single gallon of regular gasoline had risen to $2.83 at QT, RaceWay and Kangaroo as of Saturday, according to the report. RaceWay and QuikTrip officials reported that they are assisting officials, and QuikTrip employees are assuaging the tempers of drivers by offering them free drinks, said spokesman Mike Thornbrugh.
"We are working with the state and the county to find a solution and expedite a positive outcome for everyone involved," Thornbrugh said. "I think once the novelty (of a new gas station) wears off the traffic should die down a little bit. We're going to continue to be competitive. We want to be supportive of the community. County leaders have been fantastic to work with. At the end of the day, it's our goal to have people say, 'Man, these people are willing to go out of their way for us.'"
More QuikTrips are planned for the area, although they may not cause such congestion issues. The c-store chain's second South Carolina store is set to open next week in Anderson, according to Thornbrugh, followed by two Spartanburg stores in December. Four others are expected to open in early 2012 and next spring.