I-95 ‘Coffin Corridor’ claims another life as state continues to remove trees

Local News

I-95 is one of the deadliest interstates in the US, with the most accidents occurring on a 33-mile stretch of Jasper County known as ‘Coffin Corridor.’

“It’s referred to as ‘Coffin Corridor,’ because of the number of fatalities that occurred in the past years in Jasper County, that’s from mile marker 0 to marker 33,” said Toby Wickenhoefer, an engineer with the South Carolina Dept. of Transportation (SCDOT).

Its most recent victim was a 9-year-old boy from Hinesville.

On Thursday, he was traveling with his mother and sibling when they ran into a tree at mile marker 14. 

Just the day before, a well-known Bluffton couple and owners of Ulmer Family Pharmacy were seriously injured in the same spot after getting a flat tire.

A study from 2011 to 2015 recorded nearly 1,500 accidents in the stretch. Of those, 246 vehicles hit trees, 81 involved incapacitating injuries and 31 were fatal. 

In September of 2017, SCDOT received federal grants to begin removing the trees.

“The importance of this project is really to safen up this area,” Wickenhoefer said. “To increase the clear zone along I-95, both within the median and on the outside shoulders.”

That ‘clear zone’ would ideally give drivers enough open space to veer back, instead of hitting trees if they were to drive off the interstate.

“The median width is greater than 160 feet. We’ll be clearing 55 feet each way inside from the travel lane. Where the median width is smaller than 160 feet, we plan on clearing the entire median,” Wickenhoefer explained, adding, “And also we’re gonna clear the outside shoulders to a width of 55 feet.”

As of August 1, the project is about 70 percent complete. Drivers can see cut trees just waiting to be hauled off.

The project also includes installing cable rail, guard rails, and raised pavement markers.

Officials expect it to be complete by November 2018.

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