Attorney Dioné Carroll filed a Freedom of Information Act request, also known as an FOIA, earlier this month on behalf of a group of residents seeking more explanation as to the cost and timeline of the possible Hitchcock Parkway expansion project.
The residents, who go by “Concerned Citizens,” retained Carroll in its long-term battle to shed more light on the project's cost, timeline and environmental impacts. The possible expansion has caused a rift between residents and local officials, with one resident saying they are being heard, just not listened to.
“These requests are really out of frustration,” Aiken resident Bob Gilbert, who heads the Concerned Citizens group, said. “This is for those seeking information about this project by the officials who are pursuing it. We really see a lack of transparency and intransigence. Then we resort to spending money to have legal counsel there to, I guess, increase the formality of our observations.”
Carroll filed the FOIA request dated Aug. 7 with the S.C. Department of Transportation to receive more clarity on the project's factors.
“One of their present concerns centers around the estimated cost and schedule for the project,” Carroll wrote. “Under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act ... I am requesting an opportunity to obtain copies of SCDOT public records regarding same and consistent with the information and data requested in the list below.”
The group is asking for several items, including the project's cost-to-date and cost-to-go. Other requests include material quantities and schedule milestones.
Carroll also wrote to the Augusta Regional Transportation Study, who oversee the S.C. Subcommittee on the Augusta Regional Transportation Study, in reference to their quarterly meeting held earlier this month at the Aiken County Government Center. That meeting was open to the public.
Carroll cited numerous aspects of the meeting that she called “unsatisfactory” to both her and a majority of the residents in attendance.
Those included that many questions posed by residents were not included in a produced document made by SCDOT and that comments were not included during the meeting, but only after.
In an email from SCDOT Midlands Regional Production Engineer Randall Young to an Aiken resident requesting answers to several questions concerning the parkway's expansion, Young said SCDOT would answer those questions outlined in the responding FOIA request.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard.