SCDOT working on plan to make I-95 safer in Jasper Co. - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

SCDOT working on plan to make I-95 safer in Jasper Co.


The South Carolina Department of Transportation is trying to find out why parts of Interstate 95 in Jasper County are so deadly.

They’re working on a plan to make the interstate safer after that stretch of road claimed another life last week.

A Hardeeville cafeteria worker was driving on I-95 when her car ran off of the road and hit a tree. The Jasper County coroner says over the past few years, more than a dozen others have lost their lives on this same road, and each time, there was a tree involved.

Martin Sauls has been the coroner in Jasper County for decades. He responds to every fatal wreck on I-95.

“It’s pretty tough just to say it’s the trees fault only when you’ve got the human factor in there also. It’s a lot of different things involved,” said Sauls.

He admits that crashes are caused by a handful of different factors, but it’s hard to deny that the trees in the median are a common denominator in many of the fatal incidents.

“Unfortunately, just about every fatal wreck we have on I-95 involves trees. People lose control and that median is so close,” said Sauls.

Last week, one woman died after her car struck a tree. In a separate incident, a trucker had to be extricated from his 18-wheeler after he crashed into the wooded median.

Hardeeville’s Police Chief says it’s a difficult problem to deal with.

“I hate to make that phone call in the middle of the night or day, to some family and having to say that their child has died in an accident on I-95 because of a pine tree,” said Chief Sam Woodward.

In December, the Department of Transportation received funding to make safety improvements on I-95, from the state line, to mile marker 33. It’s not clear if removing the trees is a part of the plan. If they do, the coroner is hoping they do it right.

“If they do take the trees out of the median, between I-16 and the state line, they are going to definitely have to erect some kind of barrier to keep people from just driving through the median and engaging traffic headed in the opposite direction,” said Sauls.

There has been o word on when the department of transportation plans to make the safety improvements. Officials are trying to determine what they can afford with the amount of money they received.

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