From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
SUMMERVILLE, SC -
A decision is expected to be made Monday morning on the fate of trees in the median along nearly 30 miles of Interstate 26.
The debate over the section of Interstate 26 between Summerville and Interstate 95 has been raging on since 2011. The South Carolina Department of Transportation began discussing possibly removing the trees after data showed that the stretch of road is particularly dangerous.
According to a presentation by the Department of Transportation, the number of crashes along the corridor is nearly eight times the state average. The number of fatalities is nearly 20% higher than averages.
Much of the blame has been placed on the trees. Some, however, disagree with getting rid of them.
"These trees help connect this entire area, but also it's important aesthetically," Natalie Olson said. "It's a very iconic gateway into the Lowcountry."
Olson works with the Coastal Conservation League, one of the main agencies asking the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments (BCD COD) to vote to keep the trees in place and adding cables to protect drivers from crashing.
That plan will cost around $10 million, according to the D.O.T.
The plan the state agency recommends is cutting down 23 miles of the trees in the median and placing cables along the remaining 7 miles. That plan costs around $5.3 million. There are also two other plans leaders are considering as well.
Olson hopes cost-cutting will not be a factor in the decision.
"To save lives, expense should not be a consideration, and removing all of the trees isn't going to fix the problem," she said. "The problem is the steep slope [along the side of the road], so even if the trees are going to be removed, accidents are still going to happen."
The BCD COD is expected to vote on the issue Monday at 11 a.m.
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