Letter to the Editor: Travelers Rest is in TRouble...

To the Editor:

In TRouble....

Travelers Rest (TR) is openly soliciting growth and development, and folks are lining up to build, build, build. 

But there is one problem: Some of our roads and many of our intersections are ill-equipped to handle the surge in traffic that will result. Some intersections already operate below an acceptable level of service as identified in the recent traffic impact study for [the proposed Pinestone development].  (Editor's note: See the traffic study here.)

Other than the revitalization and beautification of S. Main St. a few years ago, when was the last time you saw any major road work in Travelers Rest (other than repaving)? Don’t get me wrong...I don’t relish the thought of road work, but the city is headed for gridlock if projects currently on the drawing board are approved and executed without requisite road improvements. 

And what have we been told is on the drawing board? Approximately 500 new residential units and more than 70,000 s.f. of commercial space.

According to the city of Travelers Rest Master Plan (2018), the S.C. Dept. of Transportation owns 68% of the roads in the city.  SCDOT, in conjunction with the Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study (GPATS), oversees all the city’s transportation planning. 

As of Feb 2019, the GPATS Horizon2040 Long Range Transportation Plan recommends high priority for bike/pedestrian network expansion along US 276, Poinsett Highway, and McElhaney Road and identifies one intersection (N. Poinsett Highway at Highway 25) only as a demonstration of how improvements could be applied across the GPATS region.

Disappointingly, Hwy 25 (north from Tigerville Road to the N.C. state line) is recommended for corridor improvement but is not a funded priority.

The TR Master Plan also references an annexation policy (signifying growth), encourages development, and recommends accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists.  While it’s nice to promote walkability and cycling, our predominant mode of transportation is vehicular and the city has no identifiable plan to phase in much-needed transportation system improvements. 

As noted in Horizon2040, bottlenecks are the nation’s leading cause of traffic congestion.  Anyone driving through TR has navigated numerous, poorly designed intersections.  Until recently, these quirky, ill-conceived junctures managed traffic flow just fine. Today, they barely do; in the near future, they likely will not at all.

City officials have a responsibility to: 1) identify current bottlenecks; 2) prioritize mitigation strategies; and 3) implement transportation system improvements.

Irresponsibly, they are instead prioritizing bike/walk/public transit above:

• Maintenance and upgrades for life extension of transportation systems
• Transportation system investments coordinated with land use decisions
• Promotion of safe and secure transportation
• Movement of people and freight through the region

The construction boom experienced by the city of Greenville has put tremendous pressure on surrounding municipalities to do the same. TR is now bending to that pressure without a well-conceived plan. Demand for development in surrounding rural areas will further exacerbate traffic woes for the city of TR. 

Other than specific mitigations associated with each new project, wholesale road improvements are not in TR’s future.  City officials will soon knowingly approve new developments at the expense of quality of life and safe, efficient traffic flow.

If you are a Travelers Rest resident and have any concerns about the lack of strategy and vision for responsible growth and development, I encourage you to make your voice heard by communicating with city officials and attending city council meetings.

Cindy Clark
Travelers Rest