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"It's not about the trees, it's about the fatalities" some argue I-26 median should be stripped to save lives

From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:

Trees that line the median of Interstate 26 between I-95 and Summerville are on the chopping block.

At a meeting Wednesday, the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester council of governments said they made a move forward, although nothing is ready for a vote.

Between January of 2007 and November 2011 there were close to two thousand crashes on that section of I-26, causing 44 deaths. One of them was Greg Elmore's son.

"I wish someone would've gotten involved in the mid 2000's and maybe that wouldn't have happened to Taylor," Elmore said. "It's not about the trees but about the fatalities."

There is 25 feet of land from the travel lanes to the trees. This proposed change would give motorists 46 feet to the guard rail. The idea is to reduce fatalities caused by motorists running off the road.

"When Taylor had his accident I just assumed he made a mistake and it cost him his life," Elmore said. "At that time when I saw the high rate of fatalities the question then became should that mistake have cost him his life?"

Many argue the trees aren't the problem but those mistakes that drivers make. Crash data shows the cause of the crashes is primarily from distracted drivers, drivers who fell asleep, DUI, and driving too fast for conditions.

"People are doing those things all over America on interstates but what's happening is people losing their lives at high rates here on I-26 coming into Charleston and exiting Charleston," Elmore said.

The Department of Transportation said the number of accidents on the 30-mile stretch is a common number but what is not common are the 44 fatalities in the same time fame. DOT said the guard rails will help.

Officials did not decide on when and where the next meeting will be but said sometime soon there will be another public comment opportunity.

Image courtesy of WCBD-TV:

 

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