WALTERBORO -- The state Transportation Department is thinning trees along Interstate 95 in Colleton County to make the highway safer.

A contractor was scheduled to begin work Thursday as part of a pilot project called "Timber Management for Safety."

The contractor is thinning 32 acres of trees in the median along more than two miles of the highway. The work should be completed by mid-November and will not require any daytime lane closures.

The Transportation Department reports that between 2003 and 2008 there were 14 fatalities in Colleton County involving vehicles hitting trees in the median. That was the second highest number in the state.

Vehicles hitting trees account for 20 percent of the fatalities on South Carolina interstates.