By Stan Welch
The future of Highway 29 North was made clear to the Anderson County Council Tuesday night, as several SCDOT representatives provided an update on various aspects of the plans for the highway.
Chris Jordan explained that there are four sites of interest along the highway, which skirts the Williamston area. The most recent in a continuing series of collisions with the SC Highway 20 overpass made that site ground zero for emergency repairs that have also provided some temporary relief for the low overpass which led to so many accidents.
For the bargain price of $67,000, as well as the inconvenience of the bridge being closed for twenty two days, the bridge was narrowed and a low beam removed. This actually resulted in an eight inch increase in clearance.
The bridge re-opened last Thursday. The additional damage is also likely to move the bridge onto the list of sites to be repaired. Prior to the latest accident, that was not the case.
The Cherokee Road (state road 75) bridge is scheduled to be replaced as part of a project to improve the interchanges onto and off of Hwy. 29 at Joe Black Road and Lufkin Drive.
That project is currently in the design stage.
In 2018, SCDOT will be involved in acquiring the necessary rights of way. Construction on the $15.1 million project is slated to begin in 2019.The federal government will provide eighty per cent of the funding, or $12,080,000, while the state will match that with $3.2 million.
Another major project will involve cleaning up the awkward and dangerous intersection of Hwy. 29 and Old Williamston Road (S-331) at the Jockey Lot. A realignment of roads and an improvement in traffic control will be undertaken, at a cost of $2.15 million. Of that amount, $1.72 million will come through the Appalachian Council of Government via the Federal Guideshare program. The project is in the preliminary stages. Bids will be sought in 2019.
The final site of interest is the Beaverdam Road (S 1178) bridge over Hwy. 29. Actually, a site of no interest would be more accurate, as there are no current plans for replacement or repair.
In other business, the Council, following an update by Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Councilman Ray Graham on the Kinder Morgan efforts to clean up a fuel spill that occurred in 2014, entered into executive session to discuss legal matters related to the spill. The Council subsequently voted unanimously to file a friend of the court brief, associating the county with legal actions being taken by the Southern Environmental Law Center in the case.
Councilwoman Wilson said that hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel remain, causing serious contamination of the tributaries and streams in the area. She and Graham have spearheaded the county’s efforts to return those waters to the condition they were in prior to the spill.
The council also recognized the recent opening of the county’s second ADA compliant kayak launch on the Saluda River. The site is in Pelzer.
County Recreation Director Matt Schell lauded the Council for its commitment to the Saluda River blueway, which covers forty eight miles of the river’s course, including the entire run of the river through Anderson County.