I-26 Median Tree Clearing
A compromise put together by Sen. Larry Grooms and S.C. Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Rozier was passed at the BCDCOG Board Meeting on February 24, 2014. The approved plan calls for the median to be cleared only in the most dangerous stretches of road (7 miles total), while 17 miles of trees remain untouched. Cables will be placed in these areas to prevent cars from going off of the road and into the treed median. This compromise is viewed as a victory for all—it addresses safety while preserving the majority of the trees in the median. Thank you to all involved, especially the BCDCOG Board and SCDOT for their receptivity to public concerns and willingness to select the best plan for the region.
BCDCOG appointed an ad hoc committee to study the causes of high fatality rates in crashes along a 30-mile stretch of I-26 in Berkeley and Dorchester Counties, and possible plans to address this safety issue. SCDOT presented four options to the BCDCOG committee—leave all the trees and install guardrails ($10 million), remove trees in the highest-fatality areas ($7 million), cut down all the trees ($5 million), and the “SCDOT Recommended Plan” which involves clearing 23 of the 30 miles and placing guardrails on the remaining few miles ($5.3 million). The Coastal Conservation League worked with elected officials, such as U.S. Congressman Mark Sanford, and the public to ensure that the members of the BCDCOG Board selected the plan which addresses the safety concerns while preserving of the iconic treed gateway into the Charleston area.
On December 11, 2013 the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) ad hoc committee voted 4-2 in favor of the “SCDOT Preferred Plan.” This plan costs approximately $5.3 million and calls for clearing 23 miles of the 30-mile stretch of I-26 in Berkeley and Dorchester Counties and placing guardrails on the remaining few miles. On January 8, 2014, Summerville Town Council voted 4-3 in favor of cutting the trees in the median. On January 21, SCDOT and FHWA hosted a Public Hearing where the Preferred Plan was presented and public comments were heard. That same evening, Dorchester County Council voted unanimously to oppose clear-cutting the trees in the median.
Over the following month, the BCDCOG Board and SCDOT were receptive to public concerns and were willing to work to find the best solution that addressed both safety and environmental concerns. The BCDCOG Board met on February 24, 2014 and approved a plan that calls for the median to be cleared only in the most dangerous stretches of road (7 miles total), while 17 miles of trees remain untouched. Cables will be placed in these areas to prevent cars from going off of the road and into the treed median.