DOT announces public hearing on tree cutting
The public will have an opportunity to learn and voice opinions on the proposed I-26 Median Safety Project this month, the South Carolina Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.
SCDOT scheduled a public hearing for Jan. 21 from 5 – 7 p.m. at Summerville High School, located at 1101 Boone Hill Road.
The meeting will discuss the highly controversial proposal to cut down all of the trees in the median of the 29.6-mile corridor of I-26 between mile markers 169, near the exit for I-95, and 199, near the exit for Summerville.
An abnormally large number of fatalities have occurred on the portion of highway, which prompted the proposals to cut the trees.
According to a presentation by SCDOT Director of Traffic Engineering Tony Sheppard, SCDOT performed a crash study from Jan. 2007 through Nov. 2011 on the corridor, during which time 1,934 automobile crashes were recorded. Of the crashes, 709 involved injuries and 44 were fatalities, which are unusually high numbers, he said. The statistics showed that 50 percent of the crashes involved cars driving off the roadway; twice as many hit the median rather than the right side of the road, both of which are lined with trees.
The study listed speeding, drunk driving and drowsy or distracted driving as the three main causes of the accidents.
According to the SCDOT press release, the meeting will be split into three segments: from 5 – 6 p.m. the public will be able to view displays of the project and have the opportunity to talk with project team members; at 6 p.m. SCDOT will give a formal presentation about the project; at the conclusion of the presentation the public will have an opportunity to formally comment.
Those wishing to speak must register to do so from 5 – 5:55 p.m. upon entering the meeting. The comments will be limited to two minutes, according to the press release.
The fate of the trees is in the hands of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, whose members will be making the final vote on the matter in late February.
The public input gathered from the hearing will be used to guide COG decision-making.