The traffic passing in front of my little abode on Sunset Drive has gotten markedly more intense, and I know why. And I don’t like it one little bit, no sir-ree!
It’s the roundabout or traffic circle or government again gone crazy.
If you live south or west of the Silver and Raccoon roads intersection, you are most likely having to come all the way down Sunset Drive to get to your Golden Arches, Finger-Lickin’, Z-Chicken, Good Mood Food or the offerings of the other fine establishments that make Highway 261 look like Little Las Vegas. You know, when you are hungry, you do not want to go around your elbow to get to your feedbag.
When I first heard about this plan, I was simply incredulous. I have driven (once) in Hilton Head and though it is a lovely city, those traffic circles are for the birds, and certainly not for me.
However, a few weeks ago a whole bunch of engineer types from the S.C. Dept. of Transportation came to speak to the Manning Rotary Club. Frankly, they looked like they thought we might bite. I imagine they are catching a fair amount of grief for this idea that looks like brilliance to them and pure insanity to us.
But here are some of the things I learned and the rumors they put to rest.
This construction project is not costing $14 million dollars, as I had previously heard.
The SCDOT is building 14 of these little jewels throughout our state for a total project cost of $13 million. The Clarendon project is somewhere around $900,000. That’s still a lot of money for something that I am not sure we need. But it is not the king’s (or queen’s) ransom we had first heard about.
Those DOT guys are all about some numbers, I have to tell you. The Silver/Raccoon Road intersection has had enough “incidents” to warrant some sort of revision to the area. However, it does not have enough traffic to warrant a good, old-fashioned traffic light. If it were up to me, I would have a light at every major intersection, with one of those warning, “this light is about to change” things before it. I hate trying to guess whether to slow down or gun it. I subscribe to the “that yellow belongs to me; I paid for it with my green” school of thought, but apparently not many other folks around here do. Yellow seems to mean “floor it” in these parts.
I had heard many folks worry about whether 18-wheelers, farm equipment and school buses would be able to navigate the roundabout. Mr. DOT Safety assured us that it would not be a problem as the inner part of the circle contains an “apron” that has a low (four-inch) curb that makes the circle extra wide for those larger vehicles.
There has also been some talk about the DOT having to acquire land to make this thing possible. As it turns out, they already had ownership of the southwest corner there and will position the circle as to take advantage of that. I don’t know where the guy with the extra large granny panties and the velvet Elvis paintings will set up his merchandise, but I suggest he stay out of the traffic going round and round.
The City of Manning does have to spend a fair amount of our coin to move some utility lines, according to Administrator Pat Goodwin. When I asked Pat why DOT wasn’t paying for moving those utility lines, his eyes glassed over and he mumbled something about some tiny print that said that DOT would grant the municipality a utility easement but if DOT needs it moved for one of their little projects, the municipality has to pay for it. Fab … we’re from the government and we’re here to help, right?
Here’s something funny, or at least I thought so. One of the rationales for the roundabout is that the center of it provides a landscaping opportunity for beautification. Makes sense. I, for one, think the unadulterated countryside is about as beautiful as things can get, but I’ll play their silly justification game.
When one Rotarian asked about said landscaping, the DOT guys quickly backed up and said oh no, they wouldn’t be landscaping (not in the budget), but if any civic group wanted to take that project on, they would certainly entertain the idea. Can you say mud pit meets litter target?
Completion date for this little prize is somewhere around November – AFTER SCHOOL STARTS! Again, if you live south and west of this intersection and you need to get your tiniest ones to Manning Early Childhood Center, you need to plan in a little extra time, ‘cause you are going to tour the city. Good luck with that.
Whether we like it or not, the roundabout is on its way. Remember it’s counterclockwise no matter where you enter or where you leave. The DOT says it will be so much safer because it will be all yields and no preordained stops at any of the four entry points. In theory, I understand that.
Then again, I still have to say “lefty loosy, righty tighty!”