DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The South Carolina Department of Transportation is planning to make some improvements soon to a dangerous part of I-26 between Summerville and I-95 to make it safer for drivers.
On Thursday, SCDOT discussed its plans for phase II of the I-26 safety improvements project at Harleyville Elementary School. The first phase was completed in 2015 between exit 193 and 199. Phase II will completed between mile marker 169, near the I-95 exit, and mile marker 193, just west of Jedburg Road.
The portion of the interstate was identified through the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). The program uses a data-driven approach to look at locations throughout the state with high crash rates to implements safety improvements.
“[This] has been one of the highest road way departures that produces fatalities in the state,” said Brett McCutchan, SCDOT Traffic Safety Projects Manager.
There were 103 median tree accidents on the portion of the interstate between mile marker 169 and 193 between 9/1/15 and 12/31/18 and 11 serious injuries or fatalities.
The improvements include installing low-tension cable guardrails, expanding existing guardrails, removing trees and extending what is known as the clear zone – the area for drivers to recover when running off the road.
“When you give a motorist a chance to recover, by increasing the clear zone there’s a better opportunity for them to survive,” said McCutchan.
Some local residents came to the meeting to learn about the project like Gregory Glinka, who frequently travels along the portion of I-26 that is expected to be improved. He says he enjoys the scenic drive down the interstate and hates to see the trees go but says safety is paramount.
“I hate to see the trees get cut down but I think if it’s my family members on the road and one of my family members ends up in those trees, I couldn’t replace that,” said Glinka. “So if the trees have to be cut down in the medians, then it’s the nature of the beast.”
The project is expected to begin in early 2020 and last for 12 to 18 months.