Citizens ask council about road improvements, construction

  • Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stefan Rogenmoser/Gazette -- Goose Creek resident Ken Lawrence speaks during public comments at the June 11 city council meeting.

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Several residents questioned the mayor, Goose Creek City Council and staff in regard to the highway-related resolutions presented at council's June 11 meeting.
While the City of Goose Creek does not own any roads, the S.C. Department of Transportation asked the city to pass two resolutions – simply as a formality – regarding road improvements and construction in the coming years, according to Mayor Michael Heitzler.
One resolution is in regard to lanes being rerouted for the “big intersection” of U.S.-52, U.S.-176 and Redbank Road as a safety improvement.
The second is in regard to the Henry Brown Boulevard extension that will connect the current road to U.S.-176 via Montague Plantation Avenue.
“I bet everyone in this room has an opinion on how to improve the big intersection – they go to college and get degrees in highway engineering,” Heitzler said of SCDOT engineers making the decisions on the roads.
“They've been working on it for two years,” Goose Creek Director of Public Works Steve Price said of the Redbank intersection changes. “It will add some lane width.”
“That intersection was designed in 1922,” Heitzler said. “It's been a problem for 90 years.”
The safety project will not require much construction and will end up with two through-lanes on U.S. 176 heading east toward St. James Avenue, according to Price.
The one turning lane on U.S.-52 south approaching the intersection will be reconfigured so there will be two turn lanes onto U.S.-52 south.
The SCDOT will add a raised median to stop left turns from Redbank Road into Wendy's, Price said.
“I looked at it, our staff looked at it,” Heitlzer said. “It looks like a significant improvement to safety and traffic flow.”
Price said he estimates that the project will be under construction for about a year, and construction should begin in about nine to 12 months.
“They won't be closing multiple lanes,” Price said. “Probably most of the work will be done at night when there's less traffic flow.”
Heitzler called this a stopgap to make the intersection safer, adding that it needs a graded overpass but the state does not have funds for that.
“It's more of a safety adjustment than a major construction project,” Price said.
“These features are things we've requested in the past,” Councilmember Mark Phillips said. “We're glad they're listening.”
The resolution passed with a unanimous vote from council.
• Henry Brown Boulevard
The second road resolution that passed was for the Henry Brown Boulevard extension.
This county project is being funded by a one-cent sales tax, Goose Creek City Administrator Dennis Harmon said.
He added that the city has advocated the project for more than 20 years to relieve traffic congestion. SCDOT considers this a low-volume highway. SCDOT is handling the project for Berkeley County, who contracted them, Harmon said.
There is a 10-foot pedestrian sidewalk
Citizen Mary Reilly of the Brick Hope subdivision said that she's not opposed to the road but is opposed to heavy trucks – a statement she has made often to city council.
She said the road will be a ball's throw away from a children's play park and pool and is a tragedy waiting to happen.
“The conversation always ends up at city hall over roads we don't own,” Heitzler said. “Nobody wants trucks. I'm not being vague – I'm telling the truth. We can't stop the trucks.”
Heitzler asked councilmembers if they would be against trucks using the road and nobody said they were. Heitzler said he will push for a 35 mph or lower speed limit.
One Crowfield resident said trucks travel down her road, and she would like Henry Brown Boulevard completed so she can see some traffic relief in her part of town.
An SCDOT rendering of the two-lane road with a tree-lined median and 10-foot sidewalks was shown on a projector.
Several citizens asked why SCDOT has not had public hearings on either of these projects. “All the concerns we're hearing are valid,” Councilmember Jerry Tekac said. “They will have plenty of public hearings.”
A citizen asked what low-volume highway means. Price said it is based on the number of vehicles that travel the road in a 24-hour period.
“The DOT, now more than anytime in my 32-year career, is listening to the public,” Price said. “Let the process go forward or the money will go away and you won't have traffic improvements.”
 

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