Residents gathered at the Knights of Columbus building on Thursday to view preliminary alternatives to possibly resolving traffic issues on Dougherty Road.
The Dougherty Road Corridor Study is progressing with URS Consultants leading the project for the City of Aiken and Aiken County. On Thursday, several possible solutions to abate growing traffic problems on the 1-mile stretch that connects Whiskey and Silver Bluff roads were presented.
This study is being conducted because Dougherty Road is at 94 percent of its design capacity and is expected to worsen as traffic increases due to a continually growing area.
“Traffic is a problem,” said Margaret Covar who lives off Dougherty Road. “I don’t know what the solution is.”
What was on display Thursday is conceptual, and no final decisions have been made – the goal is to gather more public comment and have a final study report available in May.
Two ideas for connecting Neilson Street to Bedford Place, possible road widening options and several alignment alternatives were all presented for Dougherty Road residents and business owners to examine.
Ann Kitchings was at the drop-in meeting with her father, William Vaughn, who owns a house on Dougherty Road adjacent to Christee Place. She said she was feeling more nervous than before about the potential plans for traffic abatement after seeing a proposed alignment alternative calling for a Christee Place extension to Pawnee Drive. She said she is concerned about how that would impact her father’s property if it were to be made a concrete option.
“We have more questions than we had before,” Kitchings said. “I just wonder how all of this is going to play out in the end.”
Vaughn said that he purchased that house in the late 1950s and he’s watch the road get busier and busier over the years.
“There’s definitely been a big increase in traffic,” he said.
Kitchings said she noticed one option that she preferred not presented at Thursday evening’s meeting which was an alternate east-west connection south of Dougherty Road. The reason that option wasn’t presented was because of “barriers” preventing that connection to become a possibility, according to the study.
Betty Lewis resides on Dougherty Road and said the street is so tight already, she wonders how they will work with any of the alternative cross section ideas that were displayed.
Those ideas included expanding Dougherty Road to a four-lane or three-lane cross section or keeping it at two lanes with a “continuous landscaped median.” The study states that all three alternatives would be within the existing 60-foot-right-of-way in which officials have to work with.
One option that was under consideration was expanding the road to five lanes but that was nixed after many of the comments received expressed that idea to be undesirable.
Residents also expressed concern with possible annexation into the city. Most of Dougherty Road is in the county. Aiken County Planning Director Stephen Strohminger stressed that this study has nothing to do with potential annexation but focuses fully on improving the traffic flow on this road with the smallest impact possible on residents and businesses.
This transportation study cost around $90,000, with 80 percent covered by federal funding – the County and City split the remaining 20 percent.
Residents have a chance to view what was presented Thursday at the City of Aiken Municipal Building located at 214 Park Ave. from 8:10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until March 15 which is when the comment period expires. Comments can be left at the Municipal Building.
“This is the point where everybody needs to take a look and tell us what they think,” said Senior Planner Sandra Korbelik.
Residents can also email email@example.com, fax comments to 803-642-7727 or mail them to Aiken City Planning Department at P.O. Box 1177, Aiken, SC 29802.
Visit http://goo.gl/JPwgC to view documents regarding the Dougherty Road study.