Opposes highway widening plan

The S.C. Department of Transportation has revealed plans to turn Hitchcock Parkway into a four and five lane monument to suburban blight and ugliness. If you like the appearance and aesthetic appeal of I-20 and the Rudy Mason Parkway, you will surely admire the new Hitchcock Freeway. Imagine having those roadways adjacent to your home.

Funds were obtained based on the need for an improved access from I-20 (at SC Route 19) to SRS. This is nonsense. $260 million was spent constructing the Palmetto Parkway, which provides a lightly traveled link from I-20 to the front door of SRS, via SC Route 125. Additionally, tens of millions of dollars were spent on the four lane connector around the east side of Aiken. Keep in mind that the SRS workforce has declined nearly 60 percent – a decrease of 14,000 workers.

The only redeeming features of the SC-DOT proposal are biking and pedestrian paths. These should be retained in the design. Otherwise, the concept of laying down huge amounts of new pavement should be abandoned in favor of making common-sense and cost-effective improvements to facilitate vehicular movement. The use of an engineering scalpel rather than a bureaucratic meat ax will result in a far superior outcome for all concerned – one that is vastly less costly, less intrusive and less environmentally destructive than what has been proposed.

Can it possibly be that the highest and best use of $26.5 million is to create a concrete and asphalt wasteland out of what is now a tree-lined parkway, abutting long-established residential neighborhoods, as well as the crown jewel of Aiken, Hitchcock Woods?

It is some of our local elected representatives who have brought this wolf to our door. Hopefully they will recognize the folly of the proposal, and take action to mitigate this tragic waste of our money.

Robert Gilbert