Barbara Carter said she was shocked to learn from her homeowners association that her condominium lies in the path of the $489 million project to build the last leg of Interstate 526.
"It's just absolutely going to devastate us. I just feel there hasn't been enough attention paid to what's going to happen to us in this community," she said.
Carter lives in The Savannah, a West Ashley development with 70 condominiums near the intersection of I-526 and U.S. Highway 17. Sixteen of the units are in the path of the highway, she said.
At age 60, she is battling cancer and living on a fixed income. She retired from sales jobs at nearby Citadel Mall because of her health. The two-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot condominium she purchased in 2001 for $90,000 is paid off. To get her affairs in order, she bought a burial plot and paid for her funeral.
Now, though, she said her life has been upended by plans for the eight-mile, four-lane parkway to connect Folly Road with Savannah Highway. She showed a copy of a yellow sheet that went out to homeowners last week advising them of the situation.
"This project does directly impact this community. Sixteen of the 22 private homes designated for relocation are Savannah properties," reads the flier from the Homeowners Association Board.
Carter went to a public hearing on the project Tuesday night at West Ashley High School to see for herself. She said the maps confirmed what she was being told: that she would have to find another home if the project moves forward.
The homeowners association president could not be reached for comment. S.C. Transportation Department officials confirmed at Thursday's hearing that Carter and 15 other households in The Savannah would have to be relocated.
Carter's neighbors at The Savannah, Frances Reynolds and Ida Desrosiers, said the highway project will not require them to relocate. However, they are concerned about what their life will be like when the new highway cuts through their neighborhood. The women retired to The Savannah and said they love it. Now, they worry about noise and fumes from traffic and whether they will be as safe.
"We always called this little old lady heaven," Carter said.
Reynolds, 62, is a retired food service manager with Georgetown High School. She moved here to take care of her grandchild. She is concerned that her condominium will lose value and that she will pay increased fees for upkeep of common areas. "They're not going to take my unit, but what am I going to be left with? Ida and I are going to be the ones left holding the bag. You're hung out to dry one way or the other," she said.
Desrosiers, 68, retired from her job on the administrative staff at the Medical University College of Nursing. She advocated spending funds earmarked for the I-526 project on much-needed road improvements downtown. "Fix downtown. Fix the Crosstown," she said.
Twenty-two homes and four businesses would have to be relocated if the plan moves forward. The route picked from among 39 alternatives requires the least number of relocations, according to SCDOT. It was selected in response to nearly 2,000 public comments received for a draft environmental impact statement which was the subject of five public hearings that concluded Thursday night.
A final decision on the route for the parkway will be reached next summer. Afterward, the DOT can proceed with right-of-way acquisition and construction, depending on the availability of funds.