Resigned to the inevitable may best describe the sentiments of many in attendance at Tuesday night’s, July 17, public hearing held by the SC Department of Transportation to discuss the widening project of Highway 25. (This was at Mount Canaan fellowship hall on Highway 25, South, out of Trenton.) This project, which is composed of two parts, has elicited much interest from Edgefield County residents as a whole and not just those affected by the changes this undertaking will bring to the Hwy 25 area; the congregation at Tuesday night’s hearing was a mixture of residents from all areas of the county.
Phase 1 of this widening project will extend the present 4-lane section of Hwy 25 to Green House Road. This phase of the project is fully funded. The DOT plans to use comments from the hearing to assist in finalizing the Environmental Document and design plans. Once completed, they hope to receive a Finding of No Significant Impact from the Federal Highway Administration. After these steps have been competed, then acquisitions of rights of way will proceed. Those acquisitions are expected to take 12 months. Construction would begin thereafter, and is projected to take 18-24 months to complete.
Phase 2 of the project will not begin until after Phase 1’s completion. This phase of the plan is not yet fully funded but is expected to be by 2019. Some in attendance shared that this part of the project will be where the real controversy will surface as radical change will take place at this phase’s implementation.
In the preferred proposed alignment of Phase 2, the turn-off of Hwy 25 will be cut off at its present location (the intersection at Billy’s Superstore) and moved back toward Edgefield by nearly a quarter of a mile to approximately where the old Wise peach stand was once located. This will allow for the controversial pecan trees on that end of the current Hwy 25 to be by-passed and left intact. The new road will cut through existing peach trees and loop around to the rejoin the Phase 1 project. The intersection from Hwy 25 to Hwy 121 would be unaffected.
While there were some in attendance who were quite adamantly opposed to the future changes, others were excited and optimistic, and yet others, while opposed to the changes in theory, expressed feelings that at least the changes may ease the problems currently experienced by the community. However, as a comment by Roger Timpson of Edgefield highlighted, the proposed designs are still just that, as the final lines have yet to be settled. On viewing one plat displayed on the wall he said, “I think they’re going to have to do some re-drawing.”
Julia Wise, whose family’s 10 acre pond is threatened by the current lines hopes Mr. Timpson is right. “We’re in a dilemma right now,” she said. Her son, Miller, explained how the proposed roadway would encroach so closely on their pond’s dam that its stability would be threatened. While they are resigned to the fact that the new road is coming, they came to the hearing hopeful their concerns could get the road moved further away from the pond.
Others who spoke with the Advertiser on Tuesday night were not particularly happy about the changes they are facing but realize it must happen if growth and ease of congestion are to come to the area. “At least it may help with the traffic” one attendee stated who shared that the current traffic conditions make it nearly impossible to get out of his own drive. One in attendance who was openly excited about the advancements that these changes may bring was Bill Hart who said, “I’m for it — that’s progress.” And that progress will soon be apparent in the area as SCDOT has a goal date of Fall 2012 for property acquisitions. Their anticipated start date for construction is 2014.