If Anderson listened...

  • Friday, May 23, 2014

To the Editor:

I and members of the Citizens Coalition for Ocean Highway (CCOH), more popularly known as “Don’t Strip the Neck,” appreciate Senator Ray Cleary setting the record straight (The Coastal Observer, May 15), that it is Georgetown County, who can request changes in the design or termination of the median project.

We also feel some vindication, as we have been asserting the same for many months. It is now apparent that, despite being informed otherwise, Bob Anderson and Jerry Oakley, determined they would hide behind the skirts of SCDOT, and claim that Georgetown County Council had nothing to do with the project.

In the same article, Mr. Anderson continues to note that the proposed median design will continue to have his support, due to safety.

CCOH is also concerned about safety, which is why we hired a highly respected transportation engineer, Eric Tripi, who researched the safety aspects of the existing Highway 17 median, in addition to the proposed design prepared by SCDOT and its design engineer, Stantec.

Unlike SCDOT, Mr. Tripi based his analysis on actual crash data reports – that is, accident reports completed by the highway patrol officer who investigated each accident. ( Mr. Tripi’s report is posted on the CCOH website for those interested.)

The report established that few accidents occur within the existing median, while the proposed SCDOT median design will cause an increase in accidents.

While Mr. Anderson can no longer deny that he holds the key to stopping or changing the median design, he is mistaken in claiming that the proposed SCDOT design is based on safety.

CCOH believes that a design with 17 U-turns, will be confusing to tourists, and an elderly population—particularly at night. Not surprisingly, Mr. Tripi predicts more rear end collisions resulting from the proposed design.

We also believe that based upon Mr. Anderson’s comments, he has never bothered to avail himself of the studies, data, and other information CCOH has made available over the past year.

On June 20, 2013, CCOH conducted an informational meeting at Waccamaw High School, and we invited Mr. Anderson to attend. This meeting included a power point slide show illustrating the issues of the proposed SCDOT design, while also proposing an alternate concept, and case studies of similar roadways for reference.

Mr. Anderson refused to attend the presentation. He also refused to return phone calls from our former Chairman, Steve Goggans, in the following weeks.

In October, CCOH offered to present an alternative plan and the safety data to the Georgetown County Council, and the Council refused to see the plan.

CCOH next offered to present the same to the Grand Strand Tourism Authority; however, Mr. Anderson, appeared at the GSATS meeting, and stated that he had “completed his due diligence in the prior June, and he had no intention of revisiting the SCDOT plan.”

As Mr. Anderson did not have the crash data and other information CCOH had, one wonders what the basis of his “due diligence” was?

Why did he refuse to consider the CCOH information? Why did he refuse to engage CCOH and the community after May of 2013? While $700,000 has allegedly been spent, it is time to stop this ill conceived project.

It will certainly impact local business, cost the community jobs, and will impact the community in immeasurable ways.

If Mr. Anderson had chosen to listen this past year, much less money would have been wasted on the proposed, errant design, and a much better plan could have been developed, supported by the community.

Robert Dimesky

Pawleys Island

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