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Emergency responders will work together while road closed in Florence

July 7, 2018 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – Emergency responders have worked out plans to provide timely service for people who will be affected as the Knollwood Road crossing of Middle Swamp is closed for a month.

Starting Monday, the Knollwood crossing will be closed for construction work, and that will cut some areas of Florence off from their customary emergency service providers.

The Florence Fire Department and West Florence Fire Department will join Howe Springs Fire Department in making sure that there is a timely and appropriate response to all calls during the closure.

During the closure, departments will have to use Twin Church Road, which connects Palmetto Street and Alligator Road several miles west of the Knollwood Road crossing.

“Between the City of Florence, West Florence and Howe Springs, we’re all going to be working together to respond to those areas to ensure citizens are served in a timely manner,” said Dustin Fails, the battalion chief for the West Florence Fire Department. “So no matter which area they’re in, whether the city or West Florence, they’ll be getting an engine quickly to serve whatever needs they have.”

The West Florence Fire Department has a station near the South Cashua and Knollwood Road intersection.

“We will respond along with them, since they have to go all the way around,” Howe Springs Fire Chief William Dillon said.

In the event of a structure fire, Dillon said, Howe Springs firefighters would handle the initial response and fight the fire while West Florence traveled around the swamp on Twin Church Road.

Florence firefighters will play a role in this as well, since they have response areas on both side of Forest Lake.

“Station 5 (located just off Howe Springs Road near South Florence High School) will respond as first-in and handle single-engine response calls on the Lakeshore side,” Florence Fire Marshal Chris Johnson said. “West Florence Fire Department has agreed to assist the city (via mutual aid) with calls, and West Florence has requested that the city of Florence Fire Department to assist them (via mutual aid) with calls on Alligator Road. The city fire department will also utilize Twin Church Road to gain access to Lakeshore Drive.”

As West Florence and Florence firefighters cope with the closure and with construction on South Cashua, Fails said that in the long run there will be a benefit for responders and residents.

“With the Widening of Cashua Project, it’s going to allow us to get through traffic much easier, especially during heavy travel times,” Fails said.

Knollwood Road is one of four crossings of Middle Swamp in Florence. The others are U.S. 52, S.C. 51, and West Palmetto Street.

“During the road closure, the prime contractor, L&L Contractors, Inc., must reconstruct Knollwood Road for approximately 400 feet starting at South Cashua Drive ,” Robert Kudelka, a South Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman, wrote in a media advisory on the construction work. “The road closure will extend to the bridge at Forest Lake to expedite the installation of the new drainage system along Knollwood Road. The scope of work in this area cannot be completed under a single lane closure and requires the use of an entire road closure.

“The residents of Forest Lake will still have access to their residences during the lane closure.”

Areas along South Cashua Drive and Alligator Road – which parallel Middle Swamp through that area of Florence County – will be most affected by the closure.

As will the 10,200 motorists who, on a daily average, drive Knollwood Road, which connects South Cashua Drive and Alligator Road and provides access to areas of Forest Lake to these roads.