The City of Aiken will hold another information session on Tuesday to show residents its alternative idea for the Hitchcock Parkway widening project.
This project has been widely discussed, oftentimes with angst and frustration, by residents living along the 4.8 mile stretch that connects Silver Bluff Road to Jefferson Davis Highway.
The first meeting was held in November. The S.C. Department of Transportation presented a concept of widening the road from two to four lanes with a center turn lane.
Many residents who attended that meeting were not happy with what they saw, expressing concern about everything from property values to safety.
So, as SCDOT continues to work on its design, the City of Aiken has hired W.R. Toole Engineers of Augusta to draw up a different concept. On June 20, the City presented it's idea visually to residents with images prepared by W.R. Toole Engineers of Augusta.
The concept presented by W.R. Toole Engineers showed a two to four lane widening to be completed within the existing right-of-way for the most part.
The drawings included a landscaped median and the reduction of the width of lanes from 12 feet to 11 feet, and installations of decorative retaining walls, curbs and gutters.
The majority of those residents attending the first information session were not happy with what they saw.
Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce said both he and Council “concerned with the citizen's concerns.”
“These are just ideas. It's not an alternative plan; it's not a City endorsed plan,” Pearce said. “It's just ideas.”
SCDOT Project Manager Kevin Gantt said they're hoping to have the final design soon and conduct another public information meeting later this summer. He said SCDOT representatives are planning to meet with City officials in the coming weeks to reconcile how wide the lanes should be and accommodate left turn lanes at the different intersections.
The City of Aiken's Hitchcock Parkway concept will be available for viewing again on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church at 961 Trail Ridge Road.
Amy Banton is the City beat reporter for the Aiken Standard. Originally from Rustburg, Va., she graduated from Randolph Macon Woman's College and has been with the newspaper since 2010.