Paul Randolph of Dorchester County had planned to put a rental house on Accabee Road in the shadow of the Cosgrove Avenue overpass for extra retirement income.
His plans took a big hit on Tuesday when he saw the right of way the South Carolina Department of Transportation needs to build a new $15 million span. The project as proposed takes enough of his land that he would not be able to use it as intended, he said.
"It has sentimental value. When my folks passed on I bought it. I grew up right there. I was born there," he said.
Randolph, 59, said he was a transportation director at the Naval Weapons Station, where he worked for 33 years. He had anticipated an extra $800 in rental income from the property. "That's why I never sold it. If I told you I wasn't looking to that income, I would be telling you a lie," he said.
Bill Simpson of Ladson was similarly disappointed with what he saw when SCDOT put up long maps of the project in Mary Ford Elementary School's cafeteria with proposed 75-foot right-of-way lines marked in orange.
"I was told my property would not be affected and then one week later I've got orange lines all over the place," Simpson said. He pointed to about three-quarters of an acre of commercial land on Meeting Street Road that he has owned for 20 years.
The SCDOT maps show right of way for the new overpass cutting through the Golden Key Social Club on Meeting Street Road next to the span. Sabrina McKee, 40, of Knightsville, president of the club, leases the building for the business where she has been a bartender for 19 years. It is her sole source of income.
"It feels kind of bad. It's so hard to relocate a bar," she said.
SCDOT officials and a consultant said the right-of-way lines for the project are only preliminary. They will take public input gathered Tuesday and come back with final right-of-way lines for a public hearing in the fall.
"This is very conceptual at this point. No final decisions have been made," said Jeff Netzinger, a project manager for consultant Hussey, Gay, Bell and Deyoung.
SCDOT engineer Jay Mattox said because the overpass goes over railroad tracks, the replacement needs to be higher to accommodate double-decker freight cars.
The four-lane Cosgrove Avenue overpass over Meeting Street Road carries 18,000 vehicles daily on average and is structurally deficient. In its most recent inspection, the 55-year-old span received 48 points out of a possible score of 100. That means it is eligible for federal funds to pay 80 percent of the cost of replacement, Mattox said.
The 800-foot-long span is safe for now, but a new one is needed. Construction could begin as soon as the fall of 2011, he said.
Engineers debated closing the overpass entirely to build a new one but decided that was not feasible because Cosgrove Avenue is a primary route. Instead, the overpass will be closed to two lanes during the construction.