DOT will soon improve two of the state's most dangerous rural roads

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Sometimes, U.S. 178 seems like an interstate to Alan Shumpert and his family.

They've lived along the roadway for decades upon decades.

"After you've driven on the road enough, you can actually tell that it's in need of some repairs," he said.

The road's problem isn't necessarily potholes. Instead, Shumpert says it's too narrow, too busy with big trucks, and too dangerous.

"About less than a year ago, I had an accident in my front yard. I live less than half a mile from here, and I actually had a truck flip and spill its load in my front yard," Shumpert said.

Shumpert's feelings about the road aren't opinions. The South Carolina Department of Transportation says they're facts.

Highway 178 – along with nearby Highway 302 – are two of the most dangerous corridors of rural road in the state.

"My biggest worry would be someone getting killed on it and major accidents," Shumpert said.

Over the next year and a half, using funding from the recently-hiked gas tax, SCDOT will set out to improve both of the roads – two roads that saw almost 50 fatal or serious crashes from 2011 to 2015.

Contractors will repair U.S. 178 from Batesburg-Leesville to about Pelion. They'll also improve Highway 302 from Pelion to Edmund.

The pair will be the first rural roads to be repaired with the new money. Better signs, new asphalt, rumble strips, and wider shoulders are all part of DOT's solution for both.

Those two roads will just be the first candidates of SCDOT's Rural Road Safety Program. The department plans to improve 100 miles of rural road each year.

"South Carolina's fatality rate is the highest in the nation. This program has been designed to target the worst of the worst roads in our state. 30% of our fatalities and serious injuries are happening on just 5% of our network. These two projects and those like them will enable us to begin to reclaim the safety features on the major roads that connect our communities together," said Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall.

Garners Ferry Road should be on the list for improvement over the next few years.

As for the two stretches of highway in Lexington County, the work should be done by fall 2019.

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