Heated Debate Over Hitchcock Parkway - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Heated Debate Over Hitchcock Parkway

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Aiken, SC -

Another round in the fight over a road designed to tie Aiken together, that's instead tearing the city apart:  The widening of Hitchcock Parkway.

Monday night South Carolina's Department of Transportation will present its latest plan for that change.

The people opposed to widening Hitchcock Parkway say it's a simple choice, parkway or freeway.

"Both economically and environmentally, it's a very bad situation," says Michael Rubin who opposes the widening.

Because in their opinion working with SC DOT is DOT's way or the highway.

"They're going full speed ahead with a cookbook approach that doesn't take into account reality on the ground," adds Robert Gilbert.

On the other hand, city officials say stop just a second: While SCDOT may have wanted them to just green light a plan, that isn't their plan.

"Five lanes of cement that I saw where I grew up in Boston, where I lived in Los Angeles, I don't want that kind of road, it's gotta be a parkway type road," Aiken City Councilman Dick Dewar says.

So he says, Monday is only about a proposed speed limit for the parkway.

"We are not voting on whether to do the project, and there won't even necessarily be a vote, but if there is it will only be on the speed limit," he adds.

To opponents, that's still rolling in the wrong direction:

"It furthers this juggernaut moving towards the discussion in the bubble, 'we're going to widen this no matter what, waste money no matter what,'" Rubin says.

Money city leaders say would pave the way to make more money.

"If you believe we're going to be a growing community and capacity, SCDOT likes to build 20-30 years out," Dewar says.

Regardless of Monday's vote, that meeting is not the end of the road for the project:  SCDOT will take council's feedback, incorporate that into a plan, then present that plan in a public hearing.

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