I was appalled after attending the recent Manning Avenue bridge "meeting" held by SCDOT, surrounding the bridge replacement project. Citizens were clearly upset as many, including myself, had anticipated a formal presentation with an immediate plan to rectify the deteriorating bridge. Instead attendees were invited into a room with roughly 10 visual displays of what the area could look like after completion. To add to the concern, the project's anticipated start date is no earlier than 2024.
Year after year the bridge replacement responsibility has been shifted from one agency to another. Citizens have been told that engineering takes time. This 80-year-old bridge has been a hot topic for roughly a decade, and it leaves us to wonder are safety and traffic concerns in the low-income and minority communities of importance in Sumter County?
The Manning Avenue bridge affects quality of life and day-to-day living of these communities, as it connects them to food and groceries, 378 and jobs throughout Sumter and Columbia, rural areas in Sumter County and the many shops and stores they shop and visit. Not only does the rapidly deteriorating bridge cause safety and environmental concerns for the area, but it also further discourages economic development and access to basic services in South Sumter.
It's time we look at our priorities and learn ways to include the betterment of the entire community of Sumter.
Sumter Black Chamber of Commerce
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