060117 Roundabout: DOT willing to listen to concerns about oak tree
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DOT says the tree in the right of way is a safety issue.

Roundabout: DOT willing to listen to concerns about oak tree

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The state Department of Transportation is willing to listen to public concern about cutting down an oak tree on Waverly Road to improve the intersection with Petigru Drive, according to the project manager.

Plans for a roundabout at the intersection will be presented at a public meeting next week. The work is being done by DOT at the request of Georgetown County, which proposed the $1.3 million project as part of the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study.

The oak tree is in the right of way about 6 feet from the edge of the pavement. “It would be very difficult for us to agree to leaving it,” said Rebecca Breland, the DOT project manager. She has only received a couple of emails about the project since the meeting was scheduled, but scores of people reacted on social media to her statement in an article last week that the tree would have to be cut. “Noooooo,” was the most frequent reply, although the number of O’s varied.

Breland said the point of the meeting is to get comments from residents who drive the roads. Leaving the tree “can be looked at, but that tree poses a safety concern for us,” she said. “It’s not impossible, but it’s not ideal.”

Petigru Drive doesn’t align at the intersection. DOT considered shifting the road, but decided the roundabout was a better solution. “A traditional four-leg alignment would also impact the tree,” Breland said.

The tree’s location on the southeast corner of the intersection blocks the view of drivers trying to turn from Petigru onto Waverly. To meet DOT standards would require shifting the intersection west and acquiring more right of way. “Missing the tree creates substantial right-of-way impacts to adjacent landowners,” Breland said.

“It’s a tough intersection,” County Council Member Steve Goggans said. “I know SCDOT doesn’t like trees in the right of way, but we have them.”

Before his election to County Council, Goggans led opposition to DOT’s raised median on Highway 17, which focused in part on getting the county to withdraw support. He hasn’t been contacted by any opponents of the intersection project and will use the DOT meeting to gauge the extent of public concern. “If it’s a consensus, I would be willing to listen,” Goggans said.

He will also look to see if the DOT plan can be tweaked to avoid the tree. “I’m optimistic there is a solution there,” Goggans said.

Project forum: DOT staff will present plans and answer questions about the roundabout project at a drop-in Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Waccamaw High cafeteria.

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