It's unfortunate that the S.C. Department of Transportation could not find a better option when widening a stretch of U.S. 278 in Okatie at Indian Hill Baptist Church.
Pastor Doug Ludlam of the Indian Hill Baptist Church is correct that the recent road widening project, which brings traffic within three feet of some headstones in his church's cemetery, is dangerous.
Such a narrow shoulder gives drivers along U.S. 278 little room to maneuver. Within seconds of veering off the road, drivers could potentially plow into headstones. It also poses a serious threat to cemetery visitors, laying flowers and other items on graves, not anticipating a threat from nearby traffic.
And that doesn't speak to the potential damage to the headstones, some of which date back to 1886 and bear the names of historic Lowcountry families and Civil War soldiers.
The situation increases the likelihood of a repeat of a 2010 incident when a driver plowed through the cemetery, taking out a tree and bush but missing the headstones. Other headstones have not been so lucky, damaged during wrecks.
DOT officials are unfazed by the slim shoulder. "I don't think it makes a difference," said DOT program manager Brent Rewis. "(It's) 2.4 feet from what they had prior to the widening."
But we believe a couple of feet can make a difference when a driver accidentally leaves the road and is attempting to correct and get back on course.
It's too late to rebuild the shoulder. And DOT is fine with the result. No room remains for a guardrail. We can only encourage DOT to be thoughtful with future widening projects near cemeteries.