County to SCDOT: Make I-95 bridge safer

County to SCDOT: Make I-95 bridge safer

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Seeking to prevent more vehicle crashes on Interstate 95 over Lake Marion, Orangeburg County Councilman Johnny Ravenell wants the state to make the bridge safer.

"I know it would be costly, but I would like to see the bridges in both directions widened to include a shoulder where a car can pull over if it gets in trouble," Ravenell said. "Right now the vehicle has to sit in the lane until help arrives.

"I don't know that they will widen the bridge, but that's why we're asking the (South Carolina Department of Transportation) to come up with some possible safety measures."

During its regular meeting Monday, council unanimously approved having Orangeburg County Administrator Bill Clark send a letter to S.C. DOT this week. A copy will be forwarded to the local legislative delegation.

Ravenell suggested an early warning system to alert motorists in the event of a crash.

"One example might be putting a light across both bridges one or two miles down the road," Ravenell said. "If there were an accident, the Highway Patrol could just push a button and it would warn motorists there is an accident so they can slow down.

"I think that would be one of the more adequate things that can be done."

The northbound I-95 bridge is currently undergoing work to rebuild its concrete deck, which is deteriorating.

Council also approved Councilman Willie B. Owens' motion to delay third reading of an ordinance authorizing a wastewater revenue improvement bond until its next meeting. The bond of just over $2 million is for Phase II and III of the West Edisto sewer system.

"The Finance Committee hasn't met to set the user rates yet," Owens said. "These are the rates people will pay to use that part the county has to pay for.

"I really don't know about the figures right now. It will be calculated in terms of the number of years we have to pay for it and how many citizens will be using it."

During council's last meeting it was reported the system is running a deficit of about $300,000 for its operations. The capital costs for construction were also about $300,000 more than originally anticipated.

Owens said customer revenues are used to repay the bonds issued to construct water and wastewater projects.

Councilman Clyde Livingston and Vice Chairman Janie Cooper were not present for the meeting. Arriving late, Livingston apologized for his absence, saying he had been unavoidably detained due to an emergency involving a business client.

In other business council:

• Heard a report regarding council redistricting from Chairman Johnnie Wright.

"We have moved the numbers around to where every council member is within plus or minus one percent of 13,214 in each district," Wright said. "The next stage is to produce a map and hold a public hearing and three readings of an ordinance for the U.S. Justice Department to review."

• Gave unanimous third reading approval to an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $2.8 million in revenue bonds for water system improvements.

"This is for 14 miles of lines and a 300,000-gallon holding tank to be built near the intersection of Highway 176 and I-95," Clark said.

• Gave unanimous second reading approval to an ordinance authorizing pre-payment of real property taxes in installments.

• Unanimously adopted a proclamation honoring the late William "Bubba" and Helena Brown Clark, who operated Clark's Restaurant in Santee.

• Unanimously adopted a proclamation declaring Sept. 19-23 National Senior Corps Week in Orangeburg County.

• Unanimously adopted a proclamation declaring September National Preparedness Month in Orangeburg County.

In a related matter, Clark said a multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan will be placed on council's next meeting agenda. A presentation on the plan will be made to the public at 3 p.m. prior to the meeting.

• Unanimously appointed John Langenback to the Santee District Fire Department Commission.

• Entered executive session to discuss an economic development issue and a legal briefing regarding a threatened claim.

Contact the writer: psarata@timesanddemocrat.com and 803-533-5540.

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