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Charleston native

U.S. 17 in between Beaufort and Charleston

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Jerseyman4 might be more interested in this subject, but I noticed that it hasn't been mentioned in this forum at all. Since it was a SC problem, I thought it was best to post it here.

US 17 is the only major southern route from I-95 to Charleston, and it is heavily traveled. For many people in Charleston who want to travel to Hilton Head, Savannah, or Florida, this is the route people take to get to I-95, because taking I-26 adds a significant amount of time to the trip. However, from the small town of Jacksonboro in Colleton County to Beaufort County, this section of highway still runs 2 lanes with the exception of three 2-mile, 4-lane sections recently made for passing.

This section of 17 is notorious for the accidents and deaths that have occurred on it for many years, yet SCDOT has done NOTHING to permanently widen this road to a true 4-lane highway from I-95 to Charleston!!! Does anybody else agree with me that it is time to make this highway completely 4-lanes? The link below is an article featuring the latest accident on this road:

3 injured on deadly stretch of US 17

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I thought that SCDOT was already planning to widen that route?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

They need to. It's scenic but it takes way too long to get from Beaufort to Charleston along that route because it's dangerously small and sometimes congested.

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I'm sure US 17 will be widened in due time. It is a vital corridor for scenic lowcountry site, a transportation link from Charleston to Beaufort and Savannah, and an economic corridor for small towns along the way.

Would US 17 be more a limited access highway or a divided highway?

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Charleston native, good to see you back and congrats on jumping the broom.

Life, as you know it, is now over (at least that's what they tell me)! :D

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Charleston native, good to see you back and congrats on jumping the broom.

Life, as you know it, is now over (at least that's what they tell me)! :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:lol: Thank you man! It's good to be back...I see many things have been written since my hiatus. You're absolutely right, life as I know it is now over! :D But it's really good, though. I wouldn't want to go back to bachelorhood now!

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I thought that SCDOT was already planning to widen that route?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, you're right, but there originally was a plan to completely widen the route about 20 years ago. The environmentalists were extremely opposed to the widening because they were afraid it would impact the ACE Basin, a large ecosystem of marshes, creeks, and rivers. I really think that was ludicrous thinking, though...you already have an existing highway! Just adding a 15 foot strip of highway would not damage the environmental area. Unfortunately, many people have died on this highway because of this shortsightedness. It took more deaths for this plan to finally be seriously considered.

It would not be a limited access highway, it would be divided with a grass median. In some of the more scenic areas, there was to be a tree-lined and canopied median dividing the highway in the original plan to create the same type of scenic road that SC Hwy 61 is. I personally would like to see a more limited access highway like US 101 in California, but again, the environmentalists would go nuts. ANY widening to complete US 17 as a 4-lane route to I-95 would be welcome, though.

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Environmentalists cannot have everthing their way in the world. Yes, the ACE basin is a vital ecosystem, but its located between two metropolitan areas - Charleston and Savannah. I think enough deaths on the road are enough unfortunate concessions for us so the road can be widened. Now, it is time for those environmentalists to make concessions.

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They should put in an elevated road system in such a way that there are enough underpasses to allow the ecosystem to remain intact.

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I believe it is in the Lowcountry COG. Transit studies are usually in larger cities than that area has.

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IF, US 17 sees widening between Chas. and I-95, id like to see the highway built like US 52 is between roughly Moncks Corner and Lake City where its a 5 lane (continious center turn lane) with full 10-12 foot right shoulders where the highway is leveled flat like a pancake. One of the reasons of adding a center turn lane is to improve hurricane evacuation so people have a choice over I-26 and SC 41.

I really like that idea. Would US 25 (Greenville to Greenwood) and SC 81 (85 to Anderson) be the upstate examples?

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With the comment made about the wetlands, heres what i do  not understand. How did US 17 get 4 lanes through Francis Marion national forest between north of SC 41 and the Georgetown County line? the highway sees less traffic volumes than US 17 between Chas. and I-95. A lot of I-95 traffic from the south traverses onto US 17 to chas since going up to I-26 is more backtracking and probably add 30 minutes to the drive.

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Have you ever been to Francis Marion NF? Its basicly a massive pine forest. It still has alot of damage from Hugo too. Its much different than tracking through wetlands. There is a much less fragile ecosystem.

What you could ask though, is how they were able to bulid the Conway bypass and not this one on 17. I think there are still some questions as to how that was done.

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Have you ever been to Francis Marion NF? Its basicly a massive pine forest. It still has alot of damage from Hugo too. Its much different than tracking through wetlands. There is a much less fragile ecosystem.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You make a good point about wetlands but southwest of Charleston, its not under any national parks or protected land that i am aware of since a large part of US 17 between Georgetown and Mt Pleasant traverses through protected land. I do not know how SC is like with NIMBYism impeding construction projects but when i think about SC 31 (and spartans comment about SC 22) that traverse through wetlands, i think US 17 will be 4 lanes (preferrably 5 lanes as mentioned before) to I-95 sooner or later.

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Have you ever been to Francis Marion NF? Its basicly a massive pine forest. It still has alot of damage from Hugo too. Its much different than tracking through wetlands. There is a much less fragile ecosystem.

What you could ask though, is how they were able to bulid the Conway bypass and not this one on 17. I think there are still some questions as to how that was done.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, Francis Marion is doing quite well, now. Hurricane Hugo did cause considerable damage to the vegetation down there, but in the miraculous ways God has designed His creation to heal, the forest looks pristine again and is in good shape. There are a considerable amount of wetlands from Charleston to Georgetown and towards Pawleys Island, so I think it is quite odd that US 17 would be widened there, but not yet widened going south to I-95.

In today's P & C, there was an article about the meeting of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation's Roads and Bridges Committee to start the process of widening this stretch of US 17. This meeting initiated a debate on obstacles to overcome in this movement. Money was one factor, or course, and evidently Beaufort and Colleton counties will have to apply for funds with the State Infrastructure Bank. It was concluded that the project now would cost between $175 million and $200 million to widen the highway from two to four lanes. The widened section of highway also would include bicycle lanes. The article can be found in the link below:

Debate paves way for U.S. 17 widening

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We must have gone to different parts of FMNF. The part I went to (not sure where it was exaclty) did have alot of regrowth, but it was all low growth and smaller pines. You can tell because there were still rome really tall pines that survived Hugo standing waay above the rest. The area is recovering well though.

It seems like we come up with ideas or start talking about them and not long afterward some news agency makes an article about it. Does anyone think we might be having some influence?

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The parts of FMNF that I've been to are closer to Awendaw and halfway down towards McClellanville. I'm just observing what I've seen. Closer to Mc'ville, I think there are still scars. As a matter of fact, there still is a shrimp trawler that was thrown by water and wind up behind this restaurant right on US 17. It is an eerie reminder of that horrible day. You are right to an extent; some of the trees there still to this day look like their blowing in hard wind...almost frozen in time, so to speak.

I don't know if we're causing any influence, but I do think these leaders can do a Google search of these issues and notice they are being discussed. As for the US 17 widening, I have been concerned about this highway for a long time, but the recent accidents and deaths, including three Navy sailors killed as well as students from C of C and The Citadel (my alma mater), have brought the situation to the forefront in the news. It is truly amazing that this highway, with the large amount of traffic traversing on it everyday, is only beginning to get public scrutiny for widening and making it safer.

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The parts of FMNF that I've been to are closer to Awendaw and halfway down towards McClellanville. I'm just observing what I've seen. Closer to Mc'ville, I think there are still scars. As a matter of fact, there still is a shrimp trawler that was thrown by water and wind up behind this restaurant right on US 17. It is an eerie reminder of that horrible day. You are right to an extent; some of the trees there still to this day look like their blowing in hard wind...almost frozen in time, so to speak.

I don't know if we're causing any influence, but I do think these leaders can do a Google search of these issues and notice they are being discussed. As for the US 17 widening, I have been concerned about this highway for a long time, but the recent accidents and deaths, including three Navy sailors killed as well as students from C of C and The Citadel (my alma mater), have brought the situation to the forefront in the news. It is truly amazing that this highway, with the large amount of traffic traversing on it everyday, is only beginning to get public scrutiny for widening and making it safer.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah, I know right where you are talking about :) I thought the boat was cool since Hugo was soo long ago.

Actually, UrbanPlanet has a record of influence. It hasn't been brought to light anywhere in SC that I know of, but in Grand Rapids and a couple of other places, we have been citied in newspapers or town meetings, etc. UP is getting the word out there in other places, so it is possible that SC leaders are reading this forum too. B)

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Yeah, I know right where you are talking about :) I thought the boat was cool since Hugo was soo long ago.

Actually, UrbanPlanet has a record of influence. It hasn't been brought to light anywhere in SC that I know of, but in Grand Rapids and a couple of other places, we have been citied in newspapers or town meetings, etc. UP is getting the word out there in other places, so it is possible that SC leaders are reading this forum too.  B)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think it's great for a forum like UP to have an influence on urban planning decisions. I didn't even know about UP until I did a Google search on Charleston growth and developments. It was one of the first choices in the Google pages, so if SC state and city leaders get on Google, you know they're possibly reading these posts.

I hope that maybe more concern with the US 17 widening project will continue to grow, and this forum can definitely express it. Then leaders will have additional input as to the importance of widening the rest of US 17 down there in the ACE Basin.

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Well, leave it to SCDOT to care more about the frickin' EPA and DHEC rather than property owners and the actual county US 17 goes through. Colleton County officials are angry about the proposed 100-foot buffers that the widening of US 17 will call for. They believe proper zoning has already insured limitations on large and unwanted development along US 17, and the county has painstakingly made sure that the land was preserved as much as possible.

The county officials also say that the reason why US 17 wasn't widened the first time was because of these buffers mandated by these outside agencies. If that is true, I'm not surprised. I really think the local government needs to be included in the loop on this project. Otherwise, we're going to go through the same arguments all over again, and the road won't get widened. Here's the link to the article:

Councilmen angered by buffer plan for U.S. Hwy. 17

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Here is another article about the US 17 widening project in today's P & C. Evidently, confusion over the amount of land the state would need to buy in order to widen the last 2-lane section of the highway has prompted the South Carolina Landowners Association to get involved. Property owners want some clarity on DOT's plan to take their land to create a 100-foot buffer to preserve land primarily in the ACE Basin.

Check this out...what just about everybody involved didn't realize was that these 100-foot buffers would be in addition to the 100 feet of property on each side which is needed to widen the highway! :blink: It seems like the DOT needs to take 200 feet of land along this section on each side, and many people don't understand why they need to do that. Fortunately, State Rep. Wallace Scarborough has said that in order to prevent property owners from suing the state, another agency should purchase the buffers from the state's Conservation Bank: "We ought not to use highway funds for conservation purposes," Scarborough said. "We should use highway money for building roads and conservation money for preserving land." Well, this makes sense, but I do not see the need for the buffers when you have Colleton County emphatically stating that the buffers are unnecessary because the county has zoned the area along the ACE Basin to completely preserve it. Thank goodness the county still wants the project to move forward, though.

Landowners confused by US 17 project

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Unbelievable...some more SC idiocy at its finest. Because of the insistence of condemning property owners' land to have these buffers from the DOT, the Colleton County Council has suggested to widen SC 64 which is a highway that goes to Walterboro. They actually adopted a resolution asking the state Department of Transportation to consider this option.

Are they trying to complicate things?! This same logic was proposed the previous time US 17 was considered for widening to 4 lanes. It's like history repeats itself!! :angry: Of course Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, supports this option because it doesn't affect the ACE Basin. IMO, the widening of US 17 should be the top priority because it is a more direct route to I-95...widening SC 64 would help Walterboro to be certain, but it will complicate decisions for truckers and travelers to drive the safest route.

US Highways should be 4 lanes throughout the entire country...like smaller versions of interstates, but with direct access to other roads and streets. They should be a regression from the interstate highway, but provide similar levels of safety.

Widening SC 64 suggested

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I think that is a fine solution. It would be slightly out of the way for those going south, but not too much, plus it could help out Walterboro.

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I don't think it is the best solution, mainly because the traffic will not be alleviated that much from I-95 to the intersection of SC 64. When traveling north, US 17 will still be the primary route to go to Beaufort or Charleston; it is the first exit for these cities off of I-95. Some travelers heading south on US 17 might take the alternate route, but they will do it only if road signs emphasize the usage of this route and if the perception of SC 64 is changed. Going through Walterboro might help the city, but it might be a hindrance to travelers and truckers who want quicker access to I-95 heading southward.

This section of US 17 is the only one still being 2-lanes throughout the Lowcountry. It just does not make sense for this highway, a primary route to reach Beaufort and Charleston from I-95, to not be widened to accomodate the amount of traffic that travels on it.

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