West Pelzer meets with SCDOT about traffic options

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By Stan Welch
Raised intersections? New signage? Brighter lighting along Highway 8? Lower speed limits? All these suggestions and more were discussed at a meeting of SCDOT, Duke Power and elected officials last Thursday in West Pelzer.
The volume and velocity of traffic on the short stretch of Highway 8 through town has long been an issue, but in recent months it has become a topic of considerable attention. Concerns about the number of big trucks and their effect on Main Street parking, as well as safety issues raised by crossing the highway have been at the forefront.
So, last week, Senator Gambrell, Rep. Anne Thayer and Mayor Blake Sanders met with DOT and Duke officials to explore some possible solutions. Duke proposed a review of the possible benefits of replacing the old mercury and sodium street lights with brighter LED lights.
Sanders said that the meeting was a productive one, but the bottom line is that any physical changes made will be the town’s fiscal responsibility. Additional marked pedestrian crossings and additional and improved signage and flashing lights would be approved by SCDOT but not funded by them.
DOT will also allow raised intersections, which are essentially wider but gentler speed bumps. Sanders said that a slower, incremental approach appears to be called for. “We all understand that the funding will probably never be available for building a bypass. And in truth, we don’t want that. We want people passing through our town and spending money. And we understand that freight trucks supply our businesses as well as those further out Highway 8.”
DOT officials expressed interest in proceeding with the placement of a traffic signal at Highway 8 and Palmetto Road. “That would serve to at least break the traffic’s unimpeded passage to the next light,” said Sanders. One of the more deliberate and controlled efforts will be the lowering of the speed limit between Gray Mortuary and the intersection of Highways 8 and 20 to twenty five miles an hour, from the current 35 miles an hour. “That certainly will not be an overnight thing. We will have to give extended public notice. We will write warnings for a long time before we write tickets. We will need to change a mindset that has existed for decades.”
Senator Gambrell and Rep. Thayer pledged their support in seeking alternative funding for some of the innovations. Both also expressed their gratitude for the participation of both DOT and Duke officials. “Everyone listened to everyone else, and that is the best way to solve problems like these,” said Thayer.