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The road diet boon-doggle mistake

Posted: April 11, 2014 10:28 a.m.
Updated: April 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The road diet -- what a mistake. Even the mayor admits it could be a mistake. When the mayor was running for office he led me to believe that he was against the Broad Street diet. Two years later, he has flipped his opinion about the diet project. The mayor’s vote, along with two of the previous council members, is what placed this mistake in motion. The urgency for the vote was to apply for a grant. A grant is federal tax dollars and not free money as some believe. This type of attitude is one of the reasons our federal government is $17 trillion in debt. This project is pork.

The bypass project is needed to keep trucks or vehicles with trailers that have more than one axle out of downtown. The only exception would be for delivery, emergency, etc. This diet project was designed to resemble the Kershaw town business district and the Lexington downtown areas. The Kershaw project did not work. Kershaw still looks like a ghost town. As for Lexington, the new mayor and some of the council want to remove the narrowing of the main street because of traffic congestion. It has been said that Lexington has more traffic and a larger population. This is true, but Camden will have the same problem only on a smaller scale. Traffic is traffic.

The work that has been or will be completed in downtown Camden concerns issues that are supposed to be done for the maintenance of the city. These projects are not to be thought of as improvements but necessities. The essential infrastructure work of Broad Street should not be a reason to go ahead with the road diet. With construction on Broad Street and a road diet, where will autos go to try to avoid Broad Street? The restricted trucks will have to use the truck by-passes, but other vehicles are going to look for alternative routes. The only other north-south route thru Camden is Lyttleton Street or other parallel residential streets traversing north to south. Lyttleton Street does not need any more traffic with three churches and an elementary school.

Is this road diet really necessary when the traffic outcome is uncertain once the truck by-passes are completed? This boon-doggle of a project should be put to the voters of Camden. After all, the city has put funds into the project. Where will this funding come from? Ultimately, the tax payers will pay in some type of tax or utility rate increase or an additional fee.

Yes, progress is sometimes necessary, but doing something that causes division in a community is not progress. The mayor has said he has talked to people who are in favor of the road diet. I and some of our city council members have talked to people who are against the road diet. The paid engineers and the experts are telling the people in favor of the Broad Street diet exactly what they want to hear regardless of the outcome. What happens to the businesses during the interruption caused by construction of the two projects? I don’t believe any of the businesses downtown can afford to miss any revenue. The unknown is whether or not visitors are going to keep coming to downtown during the construction and traffic congestion. Odds are they will not.

If in reading this you believe that I am simply close-minded, I am not. As a farmer with large trucks that pass through Camden, I once opposed the truck by-pass but now I see the need for this change. In this regard I ask the mayor and council to be open-minded and revisit the road diet plan.

In closing, all the trick lights, cute lane changes and cute medians are not a guarantee of more visitors. My question is this, “Who is more important, the maybe visitors or the people of Camden and our neighbors in the county who are going to be inconvenienced?”


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