Portion of Highway 78 to be named Thomas N. Rhoad Highway

The long-awaited ceremony for the widening of Highway 78 project between Bamberg and Denmark, with a portion of the highway here-after to be named the Thomas N. Rhoad Highway, was held Tuesday morning on the steps of the Bamberg County Courthouse with many local and state officials on hand.

Jennifer Tinsley, Lower Savannah Council of Governments (LSCOG) planning director gave a brief overview of the $5.1 million project that she said had moments of “controversy” The LSCOG has $2 million already allocated and an earmark request has been put in for $3.1 million.

Tinsley said the first phase of the project is to introduce the ground breaking in Denmark and to look at and correct the problems in Denmark with the turning lanes. Phase two of the project is the widening of the highway to six-foot shoulders to be used as a buffer for safety and use as bicycle lanes. Phase three of the project Tinsley noted was still unfunded and had not been designed yet. Phase three would include two pullover lanes between Denmark and Bamberg to provide a rest area for truckers.

After Tinsley gave her remarks, the ceremony became largely a tribute to the work of former House District 90 Representative Thomas N. Rhoad, who it was noted was very instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.

District 90 Representative Bakari Sellers presented former Representative Rhoad with a proclamation proclaiming a portion of Highway-78, the Thomas N. Rhoad Highway. Shortly after Sellers made his presentation to Rep. Rhoad, Bamberg County Councilman Chris Wilson, a member of the LSCOG’s Transportation Advisory Committee, read a Proclamation designating May 11, 2010 as Thomas N. Rhoad Day in Bamberg County.

Representative Thomas Rhoad, who served 24 years in the Legislature of South Carolina and two years on Bamberg County Council said that his eyes, hearing, heart, mind and appetite were all good, but he just had a problem walking. “This project goes way back. This project is a God send, good for everyone, I’ve been so fortunate,” former Rep. Rhoad said.

Rhoad lavished most of his praise on his young successor Bakari Sellers. Rhoad said that when Sellers first took over the District 90 seat he was worried because Sellers was so young. But now he said the district is in good hands with Sellers. “I’m so proud Bakari has taken over, he has done a wonderful, a magnificent job.”

State Senator Brad Hutto said of Rhoad “He cares about all of Bamberg County. Rep. Lonnie Hosey, of Barnwell said that he met Rep. Rhoad in 1999 and thanked him for his service as a veteran and legislator. John Rickenbacker of Orangeburg represented Congressman Jim Clyburn’s office and said that Rep. Clyburn was standing by to do his part in completing the project.

Bamberg County Economic Development Officer with Southern Carolina Alliance, Kell Anderson said that an improved highway system in the county is important to economic development. “We believe that a key driver in economic development is transportation,” Anderson said.

Bamberg Mayor Alton McCollum called Rep. Rhoad “a driving force” behind the widening of Highway 78. “I applaud you for never giving up,” McCollum said.