If you go
What: Public hearing on S.C. Department of Transportation proposal to cut down trees in the median and place guardrails along 23 miles of the 30-mile stretch of Interstate 26.
WHERE: Summerville High School, 1101 Boone Hill Road
WHEN: 5-7 p.m. Jan. 21
FEBRUARY: Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments vote. Meeting date and time not decided yet. Usually scheduled for the last Monday of the month in the late morning.
SUMMERVILLE - The controversial Interstate 26 median tree cutting goes to a public hearing Jan. 21. But the town already has told the state it supports the saws.
The 4-3 Town Council vote Wednesday was as split as public sentiment seems to be about the proposal.
Councilman Walter Bailey, who proposed the vote of support, called the S.C. Department of Transportation cutting plan "a well thought-out decision," saying regardless of other factors involved in a number of fatal wrecks into the trees along the road, the trees are a danger.
But three residents spoke out against the vote, including one who said the town might as well change its "pines" motto to "Flower Town in the Stainless Steel Barriers."
The Transportation Department proposes to cut down trees in the median for 23 of the 30 miles of interstate between Summerville and Interstate 95, in response to the wrecks. Seven miles of median with wetlands and trees in scattered locations would not be affected.
The unusually long run of trees is considered by many to be a signature of the Lowcountry, and keeping the trees has wide popular support. But in December, a committee of the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments voted 4-2 to recommend approval of the $5 million project.
The measure goes to the full COG board for consideration in February, after the public hearing. That vote will decide whether the project goes ahead.
The council vote supported the committee recommendation. Bailey, Mayor Bill Collins, council members Bill McIntosh and Terry Jenkins voted in favor. Council members Bob Jackson, Aaron Brown and Kima Garten-Schmidt wanted to table it to give them more time to review the plan.
Collins, who as a member of the COG committee seconded and voted for its recommendation, said the cutting was inevitable because DOT plans to expand the interstate on that stretch to three lanes in each direction.
But resident John Kwist cautioned council that multiple factors contribute to the wrecks and the trees keep wrecks from cutting across to opposing lanes.
"The tree-cutting is a bad solution," he said.
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