PICKENS COUNTY – South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) officials used a public hearing Tuesday night to take the community’s temperature on a project that would extend S.C. Highway 153.
The project would connect S.C. 153 from its existing terminus at U.S. 123 to a point on Saluda Dam Road between Grant Valley Road/Bishop Drive and Prince Perry Road.
DOT officials say improvements would consist of providing a two-lane roadway (one lane each direction) from S.C. 153 to Latham Road and then ta three lane roadway would proceed to Prince Perry Road.
Officials say curb and gutter with sidewalks will be provided from Latham Road to Prince Perry Road. At that point, a three-lane roadway (one lane each direction with a paved median) and a 10-foot multiuse path would continue to Saluda Dam Road, according to the proposed plan.
Also included in the plan are widening the bridge over U.S. 123, a new bridge over the railroad just north of U.S. 123 and a bridge or open bottom culvert at Hamilton Creek.
Roundabouts are proposed just north of the U.S. 123 interchange at Latham Road and Prince Perry Road.
“The primary purpose of the project is to reduce congestion on U.S. 123 and to improve mobility on the eastern side of Easley,” DOT officials said.
Tuesday night’s public hearing included a formal presentation and an informal meet-and-greet which allowed residents to look at maps and ask questions.
Several residents expressed their opinion during a open public forum.
“If you’re going to do this project, drop the bike lanes and the multipurpose trail from the project.” Steve Haynie said. “Property owners along the road are going to have to forfeit some of their property for a right-of-way, and these bike lanes just expand how much property these people have to give up for somebody’s desire.”
Haynie said added space for a bike path is something this project does not need.
“A desire for somebody’s bike trail is not a need. It’s wrong to seize somebody’s property, just so somebody can be happy riding their bike,” he said. “These bicyclists are not paying any road taxes. They don’t have to get a tag, they’re not paying 41 cents per gallon in federal and state taxes and they’re not providing any money to go to a road project. We don’t need to add a bike lane at other people’s expense.”
Early cost estimates for this project range around $23 million, with money coming from state and federal funds. The DOT is moving forward with the project in partnership with the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS)
“The Rolling Hills Circle Road has a number of dips in it, and I think it would cost an awful lot of money and that the road is going to have to be straightened out some,” Rebecca Keating said. “That’s one of my main concerns (right now).”
The project would include two phases with construction estimated to begin in the fall of 2015. Total construction would take two years, officials say. Project coordinators would begin securing right-of-ways in the spring of 2014.