FAIRFIELD COUNTY — It appears that possible renovation plans of the S.C. 34 and U.S. 21 intersection in Ridgeway are back on the table.
Renovation plans were originally postponed at an intergovernmental meeting in February due to the community outcry of the Lebanon Church, which is next to the intersection.
Ridgeway resident Cal Harrison spoke during the public comments portion of Ridgeway’s Town Council meeting on May 8.
Harrison was chairman of zoning board for eight years in Ridgeway and would like council to take action on the renovation of the intersection and not allow the project to fall by the wayside.
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 during the intergovernmental meeting in February.
SCDOT put a price tag of just over $2 million, which included the acquisition of land.
Harrison noted during the town council meeting that the owners of the service station have stated they would not oppose the SCDOT acquisition as long as they received a fair price.
Harrison noted that the community opposing the renovation are residents who live outside the town limits and he believes the council is accountable to residents within the town limits.
He inquired the town’s elected officials to put the project back on the table.
“I think it is really something we need and I think it would be shortsighted to let it slip away,” Harrison stated during the town council meeting on May 8.
Concerning the Lebanon Church community, Harrison spoke directly to Councilman Donald Prioleau.
“I understand completely that this puts you (Prioleau) in a tough situation, I know people at that church are very emotional about that,” Harrison pointed out. “But I believe you (Prioleau) will be able to take a step back and look at the issue as it pertains to the whole community and not just that one area.”
Harrison took his request to the Fairfield County Council as well on May 12, when he presented council with a petition signed by 11 business owners in downtown Ridgeway to re-visit the intersection project and possibly re-designing the truck route.
He said the truck route impacts the business community in a serious way.
“Now people realize it is a major nuisance and a safety issue that should be addressed,” Harrison stated.
He presented a letter from Mayor Charlene Herring to request a meeting with the town, county council, DOT and Central Midlands Planning to look at the truck route issue.
“We really need y’all (county council) to come together and facilitate the discussion and maybe do a do-over from the intergovernmental meeting,” Harrison stated.
Cal Harrison’s wife, Angela Harrison, also spoke during the county council meeting on May 12 about safety issues and the improvement of the S.C. 34 and U.S. 21 intersection.
“This is a very unsafe intersection,” she noted. “When we first moved here 16 years ago we were warned by our neighbors to be careful going through that area because a child had died. And it seems that everyone in our town has completely forgotten that a 5-year-old child died at that intersection.”
She stated that the community has asked the SCDOT for years to re-route the truck to the bypass because trucks are currently using Thomas Street and Church Street in the downtown area and requested county council step up and assist Ridgeway Town Council and Central Midlands Planning to remedy the problem.
County Councilman David Brown (District 7) emphasized that the issue at hand has been the intersection study and a truck route is not what has been approached yet, but a truck route study could be done.
“That’s (truck route) a whole different thing,” Brown explained. “That money was not there. The only thing addressed was the specific intersection. We can take up the matter of a truck study but he route will have to get from the bypass over to S.C. 34 somehow. Both turns are completely 90 degree turns and wouldn’t be much better than what is available now.”
Brown said the issued would be looked into.
County Council Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry (District 1) advised that the the school district was omitted from part of the discussion. It is possible that re-routing truck traffic could direct the trucks to travel in front of Geiger Elementary School.
“I think if we’re going to have trucks routed in front of a school, at the very minimum we need to have the school district at the table for these discussions,” Perry said.