Friday, November 04, 2005

Steed Creek Investigation

Here, as if to prove that we actually drove Steed Creek Road, the Windveil parks at an intersection on this embattled byway. Anyone who can or will read the POST & COURIER knows that resurfacing and possibly widening Steed Creek Road has been proposed. The resulting controversy has created more hot air than Hurricane Hugo and more smoke than forests' famous mascot could inhale.

Speaking of mascots, a host of rare creatures are alleged to reside herein thus imparting a sanctity which new asphalt would violate. Sightings of a cougar came from several different people who seemed to be hugging the same tree. An ivory billed woodpecker "might" have set up housekeeping in there and now there's talk of a panther moving about those woods. Someone provided a photo of a deer carcass lodged far up in a tree as evidence that a cougar ..or panther had hauled it there, no mean feat. No one has proposed that the woodpecker did this, however.

The road cuts through Francis Marion National Forest connecting Moncks Corner to Hwy 17 North near Awendaw and is known as Hwy 402 as well as Steed Creek Road. It's a pine lined road which provides a handy route for anyone from Charleston who dashes up to Moncks Corner for the cat fish stew, but finds that The Dock Restaurant has been sold then takes Plan B to Georgetown. It's an essential path for that sort of thing and even more useful for logging trucks and even a few who commute to actual jobs.

The positions seem to be: 1 - Any roadwork will kill the killer cats thought to be in residence, upset the ecology of the region and cause the trees to stop breathing, 2 - The road is in terrible decay and must be repaved..and widened at the shoulders at once, buffed up and made smoother than a baby's backside, 3 - The road is sound, free of any legitimate reason to exist and in no need of repair.

We pushed our way down this road from Moncks Corner to Hwy 17 to both seek a sighting of existing wildlife and to determine the condition of the tarmac. We saw no critters who might be drawn to the drone of the 4.6 Liter GT engine. We were neither lost in the bottomless potholes nor overturned by detached road pieces.

I don't want to follow those morons who made a rap music video with which the police identified, located and jailed them so I won't discuss any violations of the posted speed limits. I will have to say that cruising along at a rate which drew turpentine clean through the pine bark, we had no problems. To be certain, there are more blemishes on this road than on the face of most teenagers and the surface is unlikely to be mistaken for silk. Long slender fissures have been filled and patched like a bad spackling job on an old Charleston house. There are no shoulders except for grassy gravel patches where broken beer bottles and shards of chicken bones lay in wait for one's tires. The apparent composition of the asphalt emulsion changes by the yard. It's not an award winner, but is quite navigable by alert drivers. Just as most Charleston streets form natural speed humps, this road warns the conscious drivers to take extra care. It ain't pretty, but it still works.

The road we can all see, but the endangered creatures we cannot. No clear cutting, subdivisions, water or sewer lines, Wal-Marts, drag strips, hog farms, or mega churches seem proposed in conjunction with or are likely to be attracted by repaving Steed Creek. We don't doubt anyone's word, but when a paving contractor writes a letter to the editor claiming to have seen that cougar haul a deer up a tree or the woodpecker put ivory against pine, we'll be happy to help pull up the pavement and let it all go back to seed. Until then a smooth new surface doesn't seem the end of the world


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