RIDGEWAY — Renovation plans for the intersection of S.C. 34 and U.S. 21 in Ridgeway might be postponed due to community outcry.
During Wednesday night’s intergovernmental meeting at the Whispering Willows Bed-n-Breakfast in Ridgeway, Fairfield County Council Chairman David Ferguson said he received numerous statements opposing the renovation.
The S.C. Department of Transportation asked county council if they were interested in upgrading the intersection that lies just outside Ridgeway’s town limits.
Once financing became available, SCDOT started to stake out the plans, which spurred the response of several community and business members.
The proposed plans would take a small amount of land from Lebanon Presbyterian Church, Ridgeway Primary Healthcare and the entire service station.
“When they started placing those markers, people had a lot to say and we received plenty of input,” Ferguson stated.
SCDOT put a price tag of just over $2-million, which included the acquisition of land.
Although it is a county decision, the renovations would lie right at Ridgeway’s doorsteps. Ferguson polled Ridgeway officials about their thoughts regarding the intersections renovation.
Mayor Charlene Herring believes the benefits do not outweigh the costs.
“We are always in favor of safety but we would regret what it would do the businesses and land owners,” she stated. “By creating one safe intersection we might be creating more problems with the churches and businesses.”
According to statistics, there have not been an abnormal amount of accidents at the intersection. Although there is no question the intersection could be designed better, Ferguson thinks the benefit comes at too high of a cost to the local businesses and church.
“The fact of the matter is, is that I don’t think it is worth what it is going to take,” he said.
Ferguson suggested a way to come out with some good if the plan is aborted. He inquired about the opportunity to use the funding or part of the funding to widen Peach Road.
Although there is no guarantee SCDOT would approve changing projects because the funding is very specific.
Ferguson is hopeful to keep the funding in Fairfield County after speaking with an SCDOT member. A proposal would have to be approved by SCDOT.
The proposed widening of Peach Road would remain in the highway’s right-of-way.would stretch out two feet in each direction.
Fairfield County Councilman David Brown used last week’s traffic fatality — when a motorist crashed into a tree — as an example of the necessary widening of Peach Road.
“With the increased traffic coming, the road does need to be widened,” he said.
Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy advised SCDOT’s possible concern of how many motorist travel Peach Road and does that number warrant it being widened.
“My concern would be is there enough traffic on Peach Road for the DOT to justify spending $2 million to widen the road,” Gaddy stated.
Ridgeway Town Councilman Russ Brown noted that the Ridgeway area is a target growth for Fairfield County.
“I think in the long run, widening the road is going to be necessary,” he stated. “Ridgeway and that side of the county is the fastest growing part of the county. I think there is a higher traffic count now than there used to be and we’re going to continue to see it increase.”
Ferguson said county council would have to vote to abandon the current renovation of U.S. 21 and S.C. 34 before proposing the new project of widening Peach Road.