Protect our trees from blacktop

Aiken has been recognized as a Tree City for 27 years by the Arbor Day Foundation.The award is given to cities that have a Tree Board that follows a specific set of guidelines to protect and maintain trees that give a city character. The S.C. Department of Transportation now plans to widen the Hitchcock Parkway to four to five lanes which will require the removal of thousands of trees and shrubs.

In return, we will get a strip of blacktop that will invade homes and church property and change a peaceful community into another south Whiskey Road disaster.

I drive the by-pass regularly from Houndslake to Richland Avenue. That’s a three mile trip and it takes about 5-6 minutes. In close to 30 years, with the exception of a major fire and one or two accidents, I have never been delayed on this road. Transportationofficials say that we are planning for the next 30 years. Aiken has more than doubled its population over the past 30 years and it has not affected traffic on this by-pass.

Another argument is that we must have a corridor between I-20 and SRS. That corridor exists via I-520 and S.C. 125. Aiken is in serious danger of losing its charm and grace at the expense of saving a minute or two of driving time. There is much more traffic on Whiskey Road from Boardman into downtown. Do you think that our City or County representatives would ever allow that beautiful stretch to be widened? Aiken was given “All American City” status in 1997 for a community that develops plans with creative thinking. Let’s use that ability to protect our natural beauty rather than add to the black topping of America.

Bill Hayes