Endangered Carolina Heelsplitters cause complications for Lancaster Co. roads

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


LANCASTER, S.C. - Two days after a deluge in Lancaster County, Hough Road is still closed and under a lake.

Crews have been working on Gills Creek Drive, patching it up and trying to have it open by Friday.

Gills Creek Drive has flooded seasonally for more than 20 years.

One woman, Valerie Jenkins, was in a car that was swept away at Gills Creek Drive in 1990.

Firefighters had to rescue her.

"I thought I was gonna die. It was really, really bad," said Jenkins.

The road floods often in heavy storms.

"Debris clogs the culverts, and it has no chance but to come over top the road," said County Public Works Director Jeff Catoe.

According to Catoe, a permanent fix to the road would cost more money than the county has to spend.

Gills Creek is known as a critical habitat for the endangered Carolina Heelsplitter.

The Heelsplittter is a mussel found in the area.

Solving the problem would require environmental studies, as well as approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I'm an animal advocate as well, but something's got to be done," said local resident Krysti Bowers.

All Lancaster County can do currently is patch up the road again and hope some money rolls in before the road washes away.

County officials have applied for grants to get money to fix the road, but it's a long process.

County officials say all six of the damaged roads in eastern Lancaster County should reopen by the weekend.

A long-term fix for Gills Creek has not been approved.