DOT: Cables 'safer' than trees, plan moves ahead - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

DOT: Cables 'safer' than trees, plan moves ahead

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(Source: Chris Hauff/WCIV) (Source: Chris Hauff/WCIV)

By Stacy Jacobson
sjacobson@abcnews4.com

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) -- More than 30,000 vehicles traverse the Interstate 26 corridor between mile markers 199 and 170 every day, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Many drivers, like Seth Farrior, pass through it safely. But the stretch of road has proven deadly.

"I remember the tractor trailer. The guy got killed probably about a year ago right off exit 199. That was bad. That looked horrible," Farrior said.

Deadly crashes are part of the reason the DOT plans to cut down the trees that sit on the median between mile markers 199 and 170. The DOT said 1,934 crashes happened on the stretch between January 2007 and November 2011. The crashes killed 44 people and injured 709 people, officials said. 

Half of those crashes happened when cars ran off the road.

"Safety is better than the trees and the looks," said driver Megan White, who has a two-year-old daughter.

But there may be a silver lining. The DOT plans to install cable rail in the center of the median. Officials said it would almost double the amount of space between the road and the barrier. They also said the cable had more "give" than trees, which could protect drivers' lives.

"The new protections they put up, those metal lines have worked really well," said driver Ronald Moore. "The wires don't kill people as fast as trees."

But Farrior saw the visibility as a liability. He said open space will be boring, louder and just as unsafe.

"When there's a wreck on the other side of the street, onlookers look both ways. You end up having traffic jams on the other side of the street because people are rubber-necking, looking and then they're hitting other people. It causes more wrecks," he said.

Farrior said he would prefer to keep the trees and put up a concrete wall or guardrails on either side.

But for the DOT, trying to protect 30,000 drivers a day is more important than protecting the trees.

The DOT said the project would cost $5 million.

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