Construction to affect neighbors, traffic near Rice Hope - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Construction to affect neighbors, traffic near Rice Hope

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) -

If you live or work in Port Wentworth, a new construction project may soon affect your commute.

The construction of a new reservoir is expected to increase traffic on Highway 21 near the Rice Hope subdivision. All the construction will be happening right down the road from Rice Creek School, which means trucks and equipment will likely tie up traffic.

Monday night, a public meeting was held and a number of residents there weren’t happy.

"It's total disruption of our lives. Basically, that's it...and there's nothing we can do about it,” said Marsha Carter, Rice Hope resident.

Starting next month, 75 to 100 trucks will be driving in and out of the Rice Hope subdivision every week day and it will last almost a year and a half.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is heading up this construction project, because it's connected to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Workers will build a reservoir that will maintain Savannah's water supply during times of very low river flow and exceptionally high tides.

But aside from its $40 million price tag, the construction comes at a cost to residents, too.

"Port Wentworth has a lot of traffic on State Road 21, and this is just going to make it worse,” said Port Wentworth City Councilman Paul Fox.

Councilman Fox also said none of the city council members want the construction to come through Rice Creek, either.

Plus, residents there are concerned about the safety of students at nearby Rice Creek School, the noise the construction will bring, and the future of the neighborhood.

"Our home values are shot. Who is going to move into a subdivision when you're going to be battling trucks every minute, minute-and-a-half,” said Richard Chiariello, Rice Hope resident.

A spokesman with the Army Corps of Engineers said they have a traffic plan in place to ensure safety, which includes a temporary stoplight and trucks not turning left onto Highway 21. He says not only was this option the cheapest, but other sites would've required even more construction.

"We regret the inconveniences that are involved, but this is the only route that we have to get to the site. And in the end, it benefits everybody down from the local people in the community all the way up to the nation,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Russell Wicke.

Some residents were also complaining that they didn't receive proper notice, and the city councilman WTOC spoke with said he first heard about it last week.

But the Army Corps maintains they did notify the public back in 2011 when they began planning the project.

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