Monday night, South Carolina Transportation Officials presented plans for the widenening of Hitchcock Parkway in Aiken.
Hitchock Parkway is also known as the Aiken By-Pass. It's the part that runs from Highway 1 all the way to Whiskey Road. But just because the road sees a lot of traffic doesn't mean residents want to see it widened.
There have been plans to widen Hitchcock Parkway for several years now, but the plans presented Monday night bring the project one step closer to happening. During the Aiken City Council Meeting, a South Carolina Department of Transportation Representative showed typical designs to the public. The widening would extend Hitchcock Parkway from a 2-lane highway to a 4-lane highway, but not every one thinks that is a good idea.
"There are a lot of people that don't see the need for 4 and 5 lanes. And let's face it. This is 5 lanes at intersections. 4 lanes in other places and 5 at intersections," one resident says.
Dozens of people who live near Hitchcock Parkway say the widening will encroach on residential and religious property. They also say that if the widening happens, historic trees in the area will have be cut down.
"And to desecrate or to have the attitude to desecrate the beauty and the iconic drive by Hitchcock Woods by putting down east pine is indicative of an attitude that says we could care less about you people in Aiken," another resident said.
SC-DOT plans to have two different sections of Hitchcock Parkway. The first section will be widened to 80 feet with a 45 mile per hour speed zone. The second section will be widened to 96 feet with a 55 mile per hour speed zone. Some speakers say the speed changes will confuse drivers. And right now, the project is estimated to cost more than $40 million.
"The amount of money in the bank account right now is 26.5 million. But anyways, we're talking about a 15 million dollar shortfall," one resident says.
The Aiken City Council asked the department of transportation to bring back some more designs before they vote on the project. There will be public hearings on the widening project before construction can begin.
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