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Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The road to compromise for Laurel Hill

State officials push for more wide highway roads through trails
Izzy Burgess
Highway project manager Cal Oyer maintains that the roads will have little impact on the Laurel Hill trails.” We’re staying on the very edge of the park, it’s a low volume road, we don’t see that the sound…is going to impact the wildlife,” Oyer said.

Highway 41 is back in the news, this time, however, not through the expansion into the Phillips community, but through the expansion into Laurel Hill County Park. The Highway 41 extension project has been in progress for many years now, but still is yet to begin construction. Since the rejection of the Phillips community widening, other solutions have been proposed; the plan most likely to be ratified is the Alternative 3, which builds a road through the western side of Laurel Hill County Park, also known as “the compromise road”.

A Mount Pleasant local, Craig Hoffman, appears to be somewhat split on this new solution. “Some of the people I’ve talked to are against it and others are for it and really don’t care,” Hoffman said.

Regardless of the apparent split, Highway 41 project manager, Cal Oyer, noticed there is still a vocal resistance to the creation of Laurel Hill Parkway during the public commentary phase through June-July.

“A lot of the comments we got did mention Laurel Hill Parkway and were in opposition,” Oyer said. Either way, the project is moving ahead. The next stage is to submit the plan to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s a big project, it’s a federal action, and so that qualifies for… the Army Corps of Engineers to look at how we’ve reached out to the public and how we’ve reached our conclusions, how we looked at all the alternatives,” Oyer said.

The Army Corps of Engineers will review the project and either approve it or deny it and tell Charleston county to find anotheralternative. However, the process of making this decision may take some time.

“[The Army Corps of Engineers] might take a full year to look at it, they put it back out on public notice and told the public you have 30 days, give us your comments. There’s been a lot of public interest and public comments this time around too, the Corps will be answering all of those comments,” Oyer said.

A mentionable part of this alternative plan is that it still widens Highway 41 through the Phillips Community, but only by one lane. This lane would provide a double turn lane in the middle of the road, which would let traffic flow freely without having to slow down for someone to turn.

This is a result of the complaints of the original four lane solution, which would end up being only feet from some residences’ door steps.

There are some complications that may hinder the project. The most notable of which is the fact that when the land was donated to the county to create the park, it was under the stipulation that it would never be developed into urbanized land. If Charleston County Parks stand by this, it could stop the alternative plan entirely.

If the road is built through the side of Laurel Hill County Park, it will create more road noise for nature and people immediate to its sides. To lessen the noise concerns, the road has only two
lanes, and thus is predicted to be relatively low noise.

“Because of… the small amount of traffic that [Laurel Hill parkway] is designed for… there is one area that we might recommend a noise wall,” Oyer Said.

Sophomore Laiaan Hormaza mentions the environmental negatives to the expansion of Highway 41, and the creation of entirely new roads.

“In general, expanding roads is not good for the environment, especially because they have to deforest,” Hormaza said.

The simple reality of building and expanding roads, whether it’s through a park or not, is that it does require the clearing of land and this can change or cause deforestation to the local environment.

“That’s just… what you have to do, especially with the population in Mount Pleasant increasing so rapidly,” Hormaza said.

Wherever people may stand on the issue, the need for an expansion is increasing and this alternative plan looks to be the quickest solution, despite its environmental downsides.

“We proposed it because it works, it doesn’t put all the burden on [the] Phillips community, it… spreads the burden around,” Oyer said.

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