County Council opposes cutting I-26 trees in unanimous vote

  • Friday, January 24, 2014

Dorchester County Council opposes the clear cutting of trees along I-26 after a vote at its meeting Tuesday evening.

By the hand of Councilman David Chinnis, Council approved a motion to send a letter to the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments “to let the COG understand Dorchester County is opposed to clear cutting the trees” in the median of I-26 between Summerville and I-95.

According to Councilman Chinnis, cars make 32,500 trips per day on this corridor of I-26. The South Carolina Department of Transportation has labeled the road as dangerous after conducting a study of the 29.6-mile corridor from the past four years and identifying 44 fatalities.

Comparing the two numbers, the rate of fatalities is .0011 percent, Councilman Chinnis said.

The SCDOT study identified the top three causes of the accidents to be distracted driving, driving under the influence and speeding.

The councilman said while the resolution he proposed does oppose cutting all of the trees down, it doesn’t mean he thinks no action should be taken.

His suggestions include increasing enforcement – “enforcement there is woefully inadequate,” Councilman Chinnis said – and decreasing the speed limit to help prevent accidents. He also mentioned “spot safety changes” such as adding guard rails in specific areas along the corridor.

In support of the motion, Councilman Larry Hargett referenced an article in “Popular Mechanics” that identifies the 10 most dangerous roads in the country. Although I-26 appears on the list, he pointed out many others – such as I-10 through Arizona and U.S. Highway 2 through Montana – are more dangerous than the corridor and don’t have trees surrounding the roadway.

“So in other words, what you’re saying is people hit trees, trees don’t hit people?” said Councilman Willie Davis.

Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution and send a letter to the COG, which will make a final vote on the matter in late February.

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