MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - A Moncks Corner mother wants the South Carolina Department of Transportation to improve Highway 61 after her son was killed in a car accident.
The highway is known among community members for how small the lanes are to each other and how close the historic trees are to the road.
The SCDOT says more than 50 people have been killed on the 55-mile stretch of road in the past 10 years. Two of those were within a week of each other already in 2019.
Dennis Hickman, a tattoo artist and father, was the first of two people that have died on that highway already this year. His mother, Barbara Lewis, says he was driving near Middleton Lake Road when he lost control of his car.
“There’s three children without a dad, all those pretty trees that are supposedly the charm of Charleston won’t ever read my grandchildren a story,” Lewis says.
Lewis says she used to understand why the historic trees lining the highway so closely were protected, but she now says she doesn’t understand why they are still there after killing so many people.
“You want to protect the trees but what’s more important a life or tree?” Lewis says.
The SCDOT says that change is coming. Rumble strips, lane widening, and paved shoulders among other improvement options, are all in the works. SCDOT Rural Roads Safety Project Manager Bryan Jones says projects this big take time and money, so people should not expect any immediate fixes.
Lewis says the planning needs to stop and the paving should begin.
“What’s my plea? Stop talking about it, just do it," Lewis says. “There are priorities. Those priorities are lives. It needs to be taken care of.”
Jones says there will be meetings about the project beginning in the spring so that anyone who wants to share their opinion can be heard.