Berkeley County officials hope to widen problematic highway to 4 lanes

    

Summerville, S.C. (WCIV) — Many in the Cane Bay area are hoping the widening of Hwy 176 happens soon.

Resident Fran Downs says the traffic is horrible.

"It takes 45 minutes to an hour to get one mile," she said.

Another area local, Richard Diaz, agrees.

"At times, it's very, very heavy and bad. I hope they do something shortly because we're getting so much development down here," he said.

With traffic being one issue, the two-lane highway also raises safety concerns for the increasing traffic.

Chief Timothy Stephenson, with the Whitesville Rural Fire Department, says the area is prone to accidents.

"As soon as you have an accident there, it closes the road. Right now we're running on an average of one to two wrecks a day on 1-76," he said.

Stephenson believes widening the road will not only decrease the traffic, but will decrease the number of accidents. He also says with the road only two lanes, it's hard for emergency vehicles to respond to their calls.

Council member Jack Schurlknight says a lack of funding is keeping the project on hold and that city council is trying to budget out the one cent sales tax to help fund the construction.

"That's what we're looking into now; administration was telling council that there was $20-21 million dollars in the one cent tax fund, and they want to use that. I wholeheartedly support making I-176 four lanes, we need it tremendously."

Schurlknight adds there are other alternatives to funding the project.

"The council needs to look into the debt service and what that will do to us if we go out and bond $30 million dollars and what that's going to do to the taxpayers." he said.

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