DOT reconsiders wall denial
A small neighborhood along Bacons Bridge Road should get its sound wall after all.
Residents, wary after four years of back-and-forth, are waiting until they see actual construction before they celebrate.
“There should be no reason we don’t get it,” said Jennifer Armenti.
Rep. Chris Murphy and Sen. Sean Bennett started making phone calls last week after a County Council meeting in which some council members balked at taking ownership of a sound wall outside the Summerville on the Ashley neighborhood.
A wall had been included in the original road widening plans. No one commented during the public hearing process, as the wall was presented as a definite part of the plan, and the S.C. DOT and FHA apparently regarded the lack of comments as a lack of public support.
They removed the wall from the project, and residents spent the next few years fighting to get it back in.
In the meantime, the criteria for sound walls changed, and the residents were told their neighborhood no longer qualified.
The Dorchester County Sales Tax Transportation Authority finally agreed to build the wall with local funds, but with DOT refusing responsibility for the wall, the county would have had to agree to maintain it.
Some council members didn’t want the cost or responsibility, and Councilman Jay Byars feared he’d be on the losing end of a vote to build the wall, he wrote to Bennett and Murphy.
DOT reversed course, saying it would review the details of the original noise study and apply the criteria in effect at the time.
If they do that, Armenti said, the issue should be black and white. She’s not completely convinced some new obstacle won’t spring up.
“It’s been very, very, very unfair,” she said.
Armenti said she doesn’t have a position on the materials used to build the wall. Councilman David Chinnis has pushed the county to look into an alternative design using recycled rubber inside fiberglass rather than traditional concrete.
The alternative design costs about 30 percent less, Chinnis said.
Armenti said she’s in favor of saving the county money, but her primary concern is reducing the noise and ensuring the safety of children playing in back yards that will abut a highway.