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Letter: Eating an elephant

Posted: August 23, 2018 4:38 p.m.
Updated: August 24, 2018 1:00 a.m.

The issue is how to eat the elephant. Conventional wisdom has it you do so one bite at a time.

Apparently the S.C. Dept. of Transportation (SCDOT) does not subscribe to that wisdom. Consequently that leads to “a system shutdown” -- to politely describe a biological condition caused by overeating and lack of digestion. That somewhat describes what the city of Camden currently suffers.

In a previous letter to the editor published in the July 31 issue of the Chronicle-Independent, I ranted about SCDOT starting concurrent projects within the 29020 area without “filling one hole before digging another hole”. This commentary was precipitated primarily because of the Broad Street repaving project that began in earnest on July 17 and was begun without proper notification of residents and merchants along the affected route. To make matters even worse, on Saturday Aug. 18, construction activities closed Broad Street down to one lane of traffic in both north and south directions and closed down all on-street parking within the business district, thereby having deleterious effects upon the merchants and the traveling public on the busiest day of the week. Again, this was done without proper public notification. Further, to make matters even more onerous, word is circulating that the street will be torn up again to construct turn lanes at the Broad and DeKalb intersection and also to construct at least one crosswalk. Nor does this account for work needed at the cross streets to fix what has been torn up and to blend with the Broad Street paving. Also aggravating is the demolition of handicapped ramps, only to reconstruct them. (When was that last done?) How friendly is all of that to the business community and to the public?

Now layered on top of all the “improvements” along Broad Street is the closing of Boykin Road from Aug. 21 through Friday August 31, barring inclement weather delays. Unless one had read the article in the Aug. 17 C-I, how would anyone know? No information signs had been erected along the Springdale Drive, S.C. 97 (Liberty Hill Road) and U.S. 521 routes as of the morning of Monday, Aug. 20. Also, the article stated “directional signals” will direct drivers “to either proceed through Camden or to loop back up the other street (either Broad Street or Liberty Hill Road), depending on their direction of travel.” Yet as of Monday morning, no such signs had been erected. In many other jurisdictions, informational signs are posted long before actual route closings and detours are enacted. That was done for the Ehrenclou Drive project long before the route was closed! Nor was any notice posted on the city of Camden website. Will drivers be redirected through residential areas and along other streets not designed for the anticipated increased volumes of traffic? Most likely so! Advanced notice to drivers would have been nice! The closing of Boykin Road, while construction is underway on South Broad Street, only exacerbates an already almost unbearable situation for travelers and city residents. It’s almost as if there is a concerted effort to shut Camden down -- an achievement that Lord Rawdon of the British army attempted in May 1781 when Rawdon’s forces evacuated and burned Camden!

In addition to all of the inconvenience to the merchants, residents and through travelers, where is the presence of traffic control and speed limit enforcement? Very little has been seen, other than visual signage of the orange variety. While there is an expected degree of inconvenience brought about by “improvements”, common sense would suggest that every effort be taken to minimize inconvenience as well as safety concerns.

Now returning to the original premise of how to eat the elephant, what is so difficult about one bite at a time? That is a tried and true principle of intelligent project management.

Oh, I forget -- intelligent!

And, where is the courtesy of public notice to the taxpaying public? Forgive me, I forgot: this is SCDOT!


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