110917 Roads: State delays plan for roundabout that threatens oak
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Roads: State delays plan for roundabout that threatens oak

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A live oak tree will continue to watch over traffic at the corner of Petigru and Waverly roads while the state Department of Transportation waits for demand to increase for a roundabout. A proposal to cut the 38-inch tree as part of a $1.3 million intersection improvement drew protests from area residents and prompted a call from Gov. Henry McMaster to look at alternatives.

“We’re putting it on hold until there is a greater need,” said Rebecca Breland, the DOT project manager.

Petigru takes a jog to the right when it meets Waverly Road and DOT looked at ways to align the intersection. A roundabout was proposed because it would eliminate left turns. Georgetown County proposed the project for funding through the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study because of increased traffic as locals look for alternatives to Highway 17.

But residents and officials balked at the idea of cutting the oak, which serves as a landmark and a community notice board. Georgetown County commissioned a survey from Total Tree Care. It found the tree in “unkept good health,” but warned that ongoing foot and vehicle traffic over the roots will “cause the tree to lose its vigor and to then enter a state of decline.”

The county also proposed that DOT shift the roundabout away from the tree. Breland said that would require additional right of way on Petigru and Waverly. It would raise the cost to about $4 million, she said, because it would impact a private home on Petigru and mini warehouses on Waverly.

The funds for the project which was due to start this year, have been moved to 2020 and 2021 in the GSATS plan.

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