From the Mailbag: Smooth Roads ‘Round the State House?

December 1, 2015

Citizen Scoops

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Columbia Roads

Well, at least ISIS can’t infiltrate it . . .

We receive emails from State House address from time to time, and we thought this one – which comes to us anonymously – was pretty entertaining. The road referred to here runs past our address, and the State House garage entrance is one block away; we can vouch that the emailer isn’t making this up. We share it without comment.

I work in the Edgar Brown building, adjacent to the State House. Several years ago, our legislative big boys decided the State House needed more security. You know, because the South Carolina General Assembly is high on the list of potential terrorist targets. So they spent $6 million (if memory serves) on a giant barricade at the rear (south) entrance to the State House garage. They also had guard shacks and gates installed, and employees were supposed to flash their badges (newly issued for the purpose) to get into the garage. They also put in a huge wall that would rise up from the pavement to block any unauthorized vehicle. When they were first testing the wall, it came up under someone’s car and almost tipped the car over, sending the driver to the hospital.

Pretty imposing stuff. No terrorists getting into our garage!

It was a huge pain in the neck. Gov. Sanford, who first tried unsuccessfully to block the appropriation, directed the [Department of Public Safety] officers to leave the gates open and let workers through without checking their IDs. It was money wasted, but at least we didn’t have to deal with the stupid hassle of bringing ID badges to work and getting stuck in a traffic line trying to get into the garage. Well, all that’s over now. Under Gov. Haley, the guard shacks are in full force. 

But then, with those barriers up, you couldn’t walk across the Pendleton on that block of the street anymore, and you had people trying to cross the street then realizing they couldn’t and getting stranded on foot in the path of oncoming traffic. So they put up signs saying “do not cross the street” or some such.

That much was covered in the news. What’s bothering me is this. When they installed those giant barriers to keep drivers from entering the garage unless they came from east to west on Pendleton (you can no longer get in if you come from the south or west directions), they had to bust up a lot of the road, I guess to install wiring or whatever to make the wall thing work – I don’t know. 

Well, once they tore up the road – Pendleton Street – it suddenly became like almost every other road in South Carolina. A mess! You could hardly drive over it at a normal speed without risking engine failure. If you went directly into the State House on Pendleton, you didn’t have to drive on the rough part of the road, but if you worked here, you did have to drive on the rough part often enough for one reason or another. And so it wasn’t too surprising when road crews showed up a few weeks ago and fixed it. Now the road is smooth as ice!

So while the rest of the state has to drive on roads that look like the worst you would ever see in Pennsylvania or Ohio, our politicians have surrounded their beloved State House with brand new asphalt! 

If you have a story or observation – or just a rant – send it to us at news@thenerve.org.