U.S. 17 improvements on the way, public hearing held to discuss plan

JASPER CO., SC (WTOC) - It looks like steps are finally being taken to improve what many call the most dangerous road in the area: U.S. Highway 17.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is now making the stretch on Jasper County one of its priorities.

A public meeting was held to discuss improvement plans Thursday night. The quality of pavement, the frequency of accidents and the severity of accidents are just a few reasons SCDOT wants to widen Hwy 17 to four lanes.

That widening project will start here at the Georgia/South Carolina state line and will continue along Hwy 17 until 315, where officials say they will install a stoplight as another safety measure.

The new four-lane highway will be divided by a grassed median and feature a bike lane. SCDOT will also improve the 315 intersection with a three-phase traffic light that allows continuous southbound traffic.

Dozens showed up Thursday to learn more about the project and to express their concerns, including one woman who wants features to increase visibility and pedestrian safety.

"My brother died March 13 on the highway right before the Hardeeville line and they could not find his body for another day. The guy who hit him called the police and they told him they hit a deer. They passed the body. I don't want anybody else to get killed on this highway," said Lisa Boatright Davis, whose brother was killed on U.S. 17.

SCDOT will be taking public comment until March 10. They will then review the comments and suggestions to go along with their environmental impact study.

We also learned funding for public transportation projects in all of the Lowcountry have been put on hold for the next seven years until this project is finished.

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