The Dougherty Road Corridor Study has been a point of contention for many residents, but officials said nothing is set in stone and concerns are being heard.
Today was the last day to make comments regarding the presentation of possible ideas to abate traffic congestion on the busy road made at a public meeting on Feb. 28. Another public meeting will prospectively be held in April to discuss public feedback, as well as look at several recommendations and a possible implementation plan.
Aiken City Planning Director Ed Evans said they have received many comments since that meeting, but it doesn’t mean residents won’t have another chance to offer feedback.
“All comments received by March 15 will be considered in deciding what should be included in the next draft of the Dougherty Road Corridor Study,” Evans said in an email. “However, the study at that point is still just a work in progress that will not be adopted until after City Council decides to hold a public hearing and votes on a final version, so there will be other opportunities for citizens to comment.”
Residents have experienced a bit of angst from some of the ideas suggested at the February meeting which left some wondering how this project will ultimately affect their homes or businesses. Road connectors, possible road widening options and several alignment alternatives were among some of the solutions pitched at the meeting.
For example, residents living in the Sandstone subdivision off East Gate Drive have been very vocal about two suggested alternatives of a road running through their neighborhood connecting Neilson Street to Bedford Place.
Since the Feb. 28 meeting, it appears this suggestion has been nixed.
Marlane and Dave Johnson, who have lived on Bedford Place for nearly 20 years, said one alternative would mean the demolition of their home and the other would cut off part of their back deck. The Johnsons said they have put a lot of work into their house over the years for their own enjoyment and a possible future investment.
“We’re afraid to put any more money into the house with these proposals hanging over us,” Dave Johnson said. “What we’re trying to do is get the Bedford Neilson Connector off the table before it goes any further.”
The Johnsons and other Sandstone residents stated that it will ruin the established neighborhood’s quiet character and the increase in traffic would make it dangerous for those who often bike or walk the streets of the community.
“The significant increase in traffic through this area will make it extremely unsafe for the residents of this neighborhood,” said Sandstone resident Lance Goodlove in an email. “It would not surprise me that there would be multiple car – bicycle or car – pedestrian accidents in the first year alone if this alternative was implemented.”
Officials involved in the project want residents to know they’re listening.
“Yes, we have received many comments, and, with the overwhelming opposition to the idea of a road through Sandstone – which is completely understandable – other opportunities for handling Dougherty Road traffic than routing it through an established residential area will be explored instead,” Evans said in an email.
Evans added that several other ideas presented at the Feb. 28 meeting will not become recommendations due to public feedback.
The study is being conducted by URS Consultants for the City of Aiken and Aiken County. Officials said the goal is to improve the service of the road but doing so with the least amount of impact on residents and business owners.