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Bike the Neck: Easements still thwart North Litchfield route

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Supporters of Bike the Neck and residents of North Litchfield are planning a new effort this fall to try and convince owners of a half-dozen pieces of property to grant easements along a power line that will allow the bicycle path from Huntington Beach State Park to connect to Litchfield’s path.

Bike riders and walkers presently have to exit the path between Boyle and Trace drives in North Litchfield and use Lakeshore Drive. Neil Williams, a North Litchfield resident, told members of Georgetown County Council last week that half-mile gap is dangerous because of motorists passing bicyclists on the blind curves. “Drivers take chances they shouldn’t take in passing them,” Williams said.

The solution, he said, is to build a bike path under the power line. Santee Cooper has granted an encroachment permit for a bike path, but building it requires easements from adjoining property owners. Some have been cooperative, but others want to be paid. Complicating the matter, Williams said, is that some of the land is heirs property. “We are working on it,” he said. “This whole matter is moving in the right direction.” Williams asked the county to secure the easements from willing property owners and wait on circumstances to change.

Linda Ketron, founder of Bike the Neck, said getting the money for the bike path segment — estimated at $189,000 — is simpler than getting the easements. In fact, the state department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism offered a grant of $100,000 four years ago for the link, but it was returned to the state because the easements couldn’t be secured.

“We have put a hold on that stretch,” Ketron said. “We know that’s the route we want. The county has said there is no reason we can’t take it by eminent domain because it’s in the best interest of the public.”

She said volunteers will begin seeking easements this fall.

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