DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Improvements are coming to one of the state’s deadliest roads right here in the Lowcountry. State officials say they’re finding new ways to keep highway 61 safe for those traveling the road.

S.C. 61 ranks in the top five most deadly roads to travel in South Carolina. Thirty percent of all auto fatalities in the state occur on five percent of the state’s roadways including the highway that crosses parts of both Charleston and Dorchester Counties.

For Dorchester County Councilman Jay Byars, the dangers of the roadway hit home for him and his family.

“I had one of my daughter’s friends whose dad passed away on that road at midnight two or three years ago,” says Byars. “He just went off the road and didn’t survive so this is something that’s long overdue.”

Local and state leaders say Byars’ family friend is just one of the many victims along S.C. 61.

“There have been a lot of recorded deaths and accidents on that road over the last ten to fifteen years,” says Byars. “That road is extremely dangerous, it’s the most dangerous road right now in Dorchester county.”

A scenic and historic roadway but Byars says the road has major problems.

“The lane width’s are not what they should be to be up to code,” says Byars. “There’s really no shoulders for any margin of error.”

As part of the South Carolina Department Of Transportation’s Rural Road Safety Program funded by a 2017 gas tax increase, crews will work to improve the safety of the road for drivers. Leland Colvin, Deputy Secretary of Enginnering for SCDOT says the project includes several changes.

“Trying to keep the cars on the roadway,” says Colvin. “We’re doing that through lane widths, rumble strips, signing, high visibility pavement markings.”

And with construction slated to begin soon, Byars says the work is long overdue but is hopeful the road will lose it’s dangerous designation.

“I think people should expect to start seeing some night time lane closures, a little bit slower moving traffic,” says Byars. “And just drive safe, you know you’ve got people out there working and their lives are on the line, they want to get home to their families, just be safe.”

The project will also add a three foot shoulder where possible without having to remove trees. Construction is expected to begin by the middle of September.