Debate continues over Aiken parkway expansion plan

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, June 20, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- A big transportation debate is brewing in the City of Aiken. They're at odds over plans for a major road expansion along Hitchcock Parkway.

"I've been dead set against this from the very beginning," said Janis Hartline.

Hartline is talking about plans to expand Hitchcock Parkway, a major road connecting U.S. 1 to Sliver Bluff Road, from two lanes to four.

"It's one of the few areas that we could keep natural," Hartline said.

She's been living in Aiken for more than 30 years and has been paying close attention to an issue that hits close to home.

"My home backs up to the bypass," she explained.

This is just one of the reasons she and many others are against the expansion and the SCDOT's plans, which involves using more property.

So, on Thursday night, the city unveiled an option for a four-lane parkway that leaves private property out of it.

"We don't know what's going to be built. We do some things that we can talk about because the citizens expressed a concern," said Richard Pearce, city manager of Aiken.

The city's option includes retaining walls, more left and right turning lanes and a median.

Folks attending the meeting were encouraged to ask questions and give their opinions. And they did just that.

As the meeting continued, tension started to rise with many wondering why there is a need for a four-lane parkway at all. Why not keep it at two or maybe three lanes?

"I've lived there all this time," Hartline said. "I've never had a problem with traffic backup. I've traveled that road for 25 years."

But the state and city say this road is over capacity with about 18,000 cars traveling it when it's only meant for about 15,000 cars a day.

"There's a reason that you're seeing a four-lane road tonight," said Pearce to the crowd.

Now, Hartline and her neighbors are just hoping for a compromise.

"I'm hoping that we could come to some agreement," she said. "And still keep the residents and those who are paying the taxes happy."

After getting feedback in the meeting, the city will be taking those concerns from neighbors into account when presenting the SCDOT with their plans.


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