SCDOT to improve Hwy 61 in Dorchester County, the 9th deadliest road in SC


Highway 61, also known as Ashley River Road is the 9th deadliest road in the state, according to state transportation officials.

That's why the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is coming up with ways to make it safer for drivers specifically in Dorchester County.

"They definitely need to make some improvements," said Zachary Kerr who lives near Highway 61."It's been torn up for as long as I can remember and I'm 30. So that's a good while." 

The DOT Commissioner for the First Congressional District, Robby Robbins, says SCDOT will be using gas tax revenue to pay for the improvements.

He also says the improvements are part of the overall safety program that SCDOT implemented to make roads safer across the state.

Robbins says the number one cause of deaths and serious injuries are from people striking fixed objects like trees when they drive off the roadway.

State transportation officials are considering adding a shoulder to the road that will be 4-feet wide with rumble stripes so that drivers will have more room to recover before driving off the road.

"The shoulder improvement is a good thing," said Summerville resident Jesse Wellman who travels on Highway 61 to work."I would just hope they don't take too many trees away from the road."

One challenge is fixing the road while keeping the the historical nature and character of it, like the canopy of trees along the route.

"It's a beautiful road. Love traveling it in the morning time and in the evening," Wellman said. "It's usually free of traffic. Just pot holes are a big deal."

Kerr agrees that the potholes are a major problem.

"Definitely make it a little wider so everybody doesn't hit the trees," Kerr said.

Robbins says they are going to do everything they can to make roads safer.

He's said they've also seen issues with people passing other cars at inappropriate times.

"Save the trees or save lives which is more important," Kerr said.

The improvement plans for the highway are in the beginning stages. There will be public meetings where people will be able to share the changes they would like to see.

Those dates will be announced at a later time, but improvements are expected to start by the end of the year.

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